Nawangwe plots to ban parties at Mak

The Minister for Agriculture, Mr Frank Tumwebaze (centre), with other leaders lay a wreath on the casket containing the body of Bewatti Betungura in Kamwenge District last week. Betungura, a UCU student, was stabbed to death during Makerere guild campaigns last week. PHOTO / ALEX ASHABA

What you need to know:

  • Prof Nawangwe’s proposal followed the death of Bewatti Betungura, a 25-year-old student of Uganda Christian University (UCU), who was stabbed to death last week during the violent guild elections at Makerere. The elections have since been suspended. 

The Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, has called for the ban of political parties in the institution’s guild elections.

Prof Nawangwe’s proposal followed the death of Bewatti Betungura, a 25-year-old student of Uganda Christian University (UCU), who was stabbed to death last week during the violent guild elections at Makerere. The elections have since been suspended. 

Prof Nawangwe told Daily Monitor yesterday that political parties have fuelled violence at the university .

“I would recommend that we remove party politics from the leadership of the students to enable them grow as leaders; understanding what leadership is all about, as people to serve and not people to use certain affiliations to gain something .That is what is happening,” Prof Nawangwe said.

However, political parties rejected the proposal, saying the multi-party system is a constitutional right.

The secretary general of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), Mr Richard Todwong,  said the university needs to be strict and regulate the students’ campaigns without interference of outsiders.

“It is unfortunate that a student died at Makerere. However, for a very long time, universities have been the nursery bed for nurturing future leaders. The university should stop foreigners from interfering with politics at campus. Banning political parties from having branches within campus will not help,” he said.

His National Unity Platform (NUP) party counterpart, Mr David Lewis Rubongoya, expressed a similar view, saying the proposal is a wrong approach to students’ politics since they have a right to belong to any grouping of their choice.

“Universities are a breeding ground for national leaders. We have seen violence in all elections in this country. We should condemn violence not political parties. It is the role of the university to ensure that they maintain peace and order,” Mr Rubongoya said.

He claimed there has been a deliberate move to eliminate NUP since it entered politics of this country.

Following Betungura’s death, the University Council led by Ms Lorna Magara banned the guild elections for this year.

It also suspend the guild council and banned physical elections, which will be replaced with virtual ones.

The University Council formed a six-member committee to investigate what transpired and report back after one month with recommendations.

Prof Nawangwe welcomed the Council’s decision, saying once it is establishes that political parties are partly the cause for hooliganism, they should be banned.

“If the investigations establish that political parties are the main cause of violence, we should remove them and I am very firm on that. The loss of a young student who is the hope of parents and country cannot be taken lightly. It calls for drastic measures,” Prof Nawangwe said.

Kassanda South MP Frank Kabuye and two others were arrested for allegedly being behind last week’s violence. 

The trio, which is  facing charges of incitement to violence, was released on Tuesday on police bond as investigations continue.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions sent their file back to police to carry out further investigations, citing lack of enough evidence. 

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