Chances of Uganda’s top institution of learning reopening soon have further narrowed after a meeting of Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) that was meant to deliberate on the offer proposed by the Council hit a snag.
Thursday’s meeting was dissolved prematurely after Prof. Jean John Barya the Legal Advisor proposed that a vote on the Council’s offer be pushed to another date.
Opinion in the very rowdy meeting was largely divided between those that wanted the staff to call off their strike and those that wanted the strike prolonged to allow for a lasting solution.
The MUASA Chairperson Dr. Muhammad Kigundu had earlier told members that the Council had said it couldn’t afford to pay them their arrears unless the university was reopened.
“We were told there’s nothing in the coffers. They (council) said the only way to get the money we seek is from the students.”
Council in its meeting with MUASA Executive earlier this week had agreed to immediately pay the striking lecturers their salary and incentives for the month of November.
Participants accused Dr. Kigundu of arm twisting them into calling off the strike which he denied.
“Council hadn’t provided any roadmap for us to resolve the problems of Makerere. There’s no need to vote today because there’s no proper suggestion to this effect, and http://denafilmax.com/wp-content/plugins/woocommerce/templates/global/wrapper-end.php ” Prof. Barya advised, prompting all the members to threaten storming out of the main hall in protest of the vote. They later resumed their seats.
Dr. Julius Kizza from the Department of Political Science argued; “This isn’t a space to discuss whether the university has money or not. The politics of finances are simple; you can’t achieve anything without struggle so we must not hurry to call for the reopening of the university.”
“Can we cause the authorities to put their house to order and engage government to take on the wage bill 100 percent?” he added. Others suggested that it was high time Makerere considered increasing the tuition paid by students which is the lowest in the region.
Similarly, John Fisher from the College of Humanities blamed Makerere’s woes on poor management of the university saying the accurate number of students, lectures and funds generated from the different colleges has never been established.
However, another section argued that continued closure of the institution could hamper efforts of negotiating with government which has the capacity to end the stalemate and tarnish Makerere’s credibility.
They said reopening would allow the visitation committee to access all information including interviewing staff on the issues affecting the university.
“Let’s suspend the strike because we are negotiating with the wrong people (Council). They are helpless. We need to discuss with government,” one of the participant said.
Prof. Anthony Mugisha from the College of Veterinary observed; “The President has categorically said he won’t allow to be blackmailed through strikes. We must create an environment for negotiations.”
Another sticky issue in Thursday’s meeting was the distrust in the university council which for the last 6 months has failed to iron out the increment percentage for lecturers. Council had cut it to 25% from 75% yet the teaching staff demanded 50% similar to that of the non teaching staff.
In a letter written by Wanna Etyem the Chairperson Council to MUASA, he said; “Incentive allowance from the month of June 2016 is a matter still to be discussed by Council and we shall consult relevant authorities to ensure it is paid.”
Following Thursday’s dramatic meeting, the MUASA Chairman told journalists; “We shall return to Council in a period of two days and whatever proposal they will give us regarding the comtentious issue of inventive allowance after June, we shall bring it back to the Assembly.”