Uganda: Makerere Impasse - MPs Accuse Janet of 'Dodging' Parliament

6 November 2019

MPs on the education committee have expressed concern over the continued absence of First Lady also Education minister Janet Museveni to appear before parliament to answer queries about Makerere University.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga tasked the education committee to probe the current impasse at Makerere that has seen students protest for more than two weeks against the 15% cumulative tuition increment. The students strike has been met with unprecedented brutality which led to nationwide condemnation.

In a statement that she issued on her official social media platforms, Ms Museveni defended the brutality against the students, saying at all times, citizens must submit to authority. She also accused the students of being corrupt and getting paid by opposition to strike.

On Tuesday, MPs expressed disappointment that the minister who had been invited to appear before MPs had yet again delegated the state minister for Higher Education, Chrysostom Muyingo to answer queries about the impasse at Makerere. The MPs said, Muyingo, when he appeared on the floor of parliament, he seemed to always refer to the minister. Although the committee had invited the minister, she wrote to the committee saying that she had delegated Muyingo because of a busy schedule.

Joy Atim Ongom the Lira district Woman MP said that the minister has now made it a habit to delegate Muyingo whenever asked to appear before parliament.

"When it was at the floor of parliament, it was a delegation. She delegated the minister. To the committee, she's delegating and I know when we go to the report she's again going to delegate. At what time will she be available for this committee and for parliament? I think that is the question... wouldn't it be prudent enough for the ministry of Education, the minister and staff to first be with us then we involve Makerere team because what Makerere did the ministry was not aware of and it seems what the ministry did Makerere was not aware of." she said.

Allan Ssewanyana, the MP Makindye West told the MPs that they should not proceed discussions without Muyingo who had appeared before the committee with Makerere University vice-chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe and the chairperson of the university council, Lorna Magara.

The two university officials were told to leave the committee room because they were not invited. The committee chairperson Jacob Opolot asked Nawangwe and Magara to return on Wednesday but Muyingo told the MPs that it was unfair to turn away the officials and yet the letter asked him to appear with the officials.

Ssewanyana said Muyingo hasn't been previously satisfactory in his answers whenever queried.

"When we were in parliament before this task was sent to this committee, the junior minister was present and the way he was answering the various queries, he wasn't satisfactory. He was referring to the minister always. Now given that he's the one here, we might not get the relevant information from the ministry." Ssewanyana said.

Opolot asked the MPs to respect the representative of the minister and the delegation. He said following the concerns from members, they will ensure the minister appears before the committee.

"I urge us to receive what Hon Muyingo has presented on behalf of the ministry and the substantive minister. If there is a reason to believe that he's incompetent to represent that position, we're still here," he said.

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