Makerere blocks freshers from student leadership

Makerere University guild presidential candidate for National Unity Platform (NUP) Lawrence Alionzi being carried by one of his supporters during campaigns this year. PHOTO/ COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The number of ministers required on the guild cabinet has also been reduced to 15 from 18.

Makerere University Council has issued a raft of changes in the Students’ Guild constitution 2016.
The changes will, among others, exclude first-year students from holding leadership positions.
The enactment of the 13-sectioned statute was done in the exercise of the authority vested in the Council under Section 69 of the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act, 2001 (as amended). 

 This is because Section 8(c) states that any student to be elected or appointed to a leadership position under the Guild shall have completed a minimum of two semesters at the university and shall have attained a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 3.0 as stated in Section 8 (b) of this statute.
In addition, Section 10 (b) of the Statute reads: “Student elections at the university shall be virtual unless otherwise determined by the University Council.”
There is also a change of who shall vote on the Guild Electoral commission.

The statute in section 11(a) mentions that the Guild Electoral Commission shall consist of a representative from each College elected by members of the respective College and each College shall elect a representative to the guild electoral commission through universal suffrage.
The statute was released on September 16 after being approved by Ms Lorna Magara, the chairperson of the University Council, and Mr Yusuf Kiranda, the university secretary.
Further, the number of ministers required on the guild cabinet has been reduced to 15 from 18.

Initially, in Section 20 (1) of Students Guild constitution 2016 (as amended), the cabinet comprised the guild president, vice president, prime minister, deputy prime minister, minister for Academic Affairs, the minister for Culture and Mobilisation, the minister for Estates and Environment, minister for External Affairs, minister for Finance, minister for Gender, Ethics and Integrity, minister for Health, minister for Information, minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

Others include the minister for Off-Campus Affairs, minister for Postgraduate Students Affairs, minister for Production and Employment, minister for Research and Computer Technology, minister for Security, minister for Social Affairs, minister for Sports and Games, minister for Students Affairs and the minister for Students with Disabilities.

However, the new statute states that the guild president shall be the head of the students and shall be assisted by a guild vice president and not more than 15 ministers appointed by either him or her from among members of the guild representative council.
The naming of the ministries and functions of the ministers shall be defined in the Guild constitution.

The enactment of this statute follows violent campaigns held on July 14, in which Betungura Bewatti, a law student at Uganda Christian University was killed. Bewatti had allegedly gone to Makerere University to support a friend, who was contesting for guild presidency. 
 The incident called for the immediate suspension of all guild elections and guild government at the university.