3,000 students of Muteesa I University stranded as lecturers strike

Muteesa I Royal University campus at Kakeeka-Mengo, Kampala. Photo by James Kabengwa

Muteesa I Royal University lecturers have gone on a strike accusing the Vice Chancellor (VC), Dr Arthur Sserwanga of promoting divisions among staff members and failing to clear their salary arrears.

The strike prompted the stranded 3,000 to threaten a parallel strike.

 In their petition, the lecturers at the Buganda Kingdom run institution claim that they last received salaries in June.

They accuse Dr Sserwanga of terminating staff without following proper procedure, lacking prioritisation of expenditure, reducing staff contracts from five to two years and failing to improve sanitation at the university campuses, among other accusations.

They vowed not to resume working “until Dr Sserwanga resigns.”

“The staff members are highly demotivated [which] is compromising the quality of output. Staff [members] have no credit worthiness because of uncertainties in cash flows,” their petition reads in part.  “Very low salaries for teaching staff and very high salaries for top managers. Such a situation cannot move the university to the next level. Salaries of staff at MRU are not matching with the cost of living, no chance of development.”

The lecturers say the University Council, the highest decision making body of the institution gave a lot of power to the VC, which made him the jury and executioner.

“This is why the Council has failed to appraise him using the performance indicators. We suggest he resigns,” the lecturers say in the petition.

Buganda’s Education Minister, Dr Twaha Kawaase declined to reply to Daily Monitor’s repeated calls and text messages.

On Tuesday, Dr Sserwanga responded in a text message:  “I am in a Council meeting in Masaka. I cannot revert soon.”

Contacted on Wednesday, he responded via text: “My apologies, I am in meetings. Council is meeting all staff and student leaders. You will get feedback thereafter.”

But the kingdom’s Minister for Information, Mr Noah Kiyimba said all the matters raised in the petition would be resolved.

“The University Council convened and the outcomes will be communicated. Students need to stay calm. Challenges tend to hit institutions during infancy but all will be sorted, if the claims are true,” Mr Kiyimba said.

Muteesa I Royal University was accredited by the Uganda National Council for Higher Education in 2007 with Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi being its pioneer Chancellor. He was replaced in June by Justice Julia Ssebutinde.

Dr Sserwanga is the fourth VC of the university after Prof Munnakukaama Nsereko, Prof Elisha Ssemakula and Prof Kigongo Bukenya.

He was appointed in September 2014.

The university has three campuses in Kilumba-Masaka (main campus), in Mubende Municipality and Kakeeka, in Mengo-Kampala.