4 November 2016

Uganda: Janet Calls Crisis Meet As President Rebukes Lecturers

Photo: The Independent
The striking students from Douglas Villa hostel ordered to lie down low like the police.

Kampala/Luweero. — The deepening crisis at Makerere University has forced First Lady and Education minister Janet Museveni to summon striking lecturers and university administrators to State House for a meeting today to look for a remedy to the standoff.

Confirming today's crisis meeting, Mr Patrick Muinda, the Education ministry communications officer, said: "The minister (Ms Museveni) has called for a meeting tomorrow (today) at 11am to map out a way for Makerere University; all the details will be available after."

Hours before the news of the planned meeting with Ms Museveni broke, Mr Museveni addressed a news conference in Luweero District- the cradle of NRM revolution, where he accused the striking lecturers of indiscipline and wanting to hold the country at ransom yet government had indicated a clear commitment to paying their salary arrears.

The President, who reminded lecturers of his new action-oriented five-year term slogan or Kisanja hakuna mchezo, also accused the lecturers of reasoning in a flimsy way and made it clear that such antics will not be tolerated by his government at a time when the country is trying to handle [urgent] infrastructural development programmes meant to uplift the entire population and not Makerere University alone.

"We cannot tolerate this continued indiscipline by the striking lecturers at Makerere University. The lecturers know very well that we have been handling their problem," Mr Museveni said.

"The owner of a home cannot paralyse activities at his own home when his children are watching. This cannot be tolerated anymore," he added.

President Museveni also said he ordered the closure of the university on Tuesday after the University Council approached him and explained what was happening at the country's oldest and premier institution.

"These lecturers clearly know all the past attempts and commitment to have their matters resolved. We have been increasing their salaries from Shs8m and the target is now Shs15m," Mr Museveni said.

When contacted yesterday, Makerere University Academic Staff Association (Muasa), said they are victims of maladministration and insisted they are not indisciplined.

The University Council met yesterday and resolved that the institution remains closed until the standoff is sorted out.

"All staff members shall be required to hand over university movable properties like cars and office keys. Council has put in place a skeleton staff to keep communication channels with government open," Dr Charles Wana-Etyem, the chairperson Makerere University Council, yesterday said.

The skeleton staff includes the Vice Chancellor and two deputy vice chancellors' offices and the university secretary. Other senior university administrators, including the bursar, students' dean and academic registrar, among others will be on standby call.

Dr Wana-Etyem also told Daily Monitor that all projects apart from the ongoing construction of the African Development Bank at the university have been halted.

Dr Etyem said even donor-funded research projects have been halted as result of the closure. However, he said they will inform the government and seek guidance on how to handle research-funded projects.

On Tuesday, President Museveni directed the closure of Makerere University citing risks to safety of persons and property.

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