Parliament to investigate violation of students rights at Makerere University

The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has directed the Education Committee to investigate the unrest at Makerere University which broke out last week over a 15 percent increment in tuition fees.

Kadaga’s directive followed a bi-partisan condemnation by MPs of the security agencies brutality meted out on the university’s students.

The debate in Parliament on Thursday followed a motion moved by Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga, who is also the shadow minister of Education and Sports, urging Parliament to investigate the cause of the unrest at Makerere.

He wondered why dialogue failed and government together with the University management resorted to forcing the fees structure on the students and parents.

He accused the government of failing on its duty, arguing that the proposed fees increments were akin to double taxation since the parents are already paying the taxes to sustain the university.

The Masaka Municipality legislator said that Parliament needs to interest itself to interest itself in how fees in public universities are increased, and also called for a probe into allegations of sexual abuse by security agencies.

“We would like Parliament to interest itself in the abuse of students’ rights by security agencies. We need to know, who invited them? We have the police, the paramilitary and the UPDF at the Makerere, abusing students – there are allegations of sexual abuse, can these be investigated?” Mpuuga submitted.

Mpuuga’s motion came a day after Parliament passed a motion condemning the brutal acts by security agencies against Makerere University students who are demanding for the scrapping of the fees increments.

Wednesday’s motion was moved by Igara West MP, Raphael Magyezi.

National female youth MP Anna Adeke Ebaju, a former guild president of the university, argued that Parliament needed to take urgent steps to resolve the impasse at the university which she blamed on what she termed as a governance crisis at the Ministry of Education and Sports as well as the University administration where the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe suspends students over mere social media.

Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa, also a former guild president of the same university proposed that if Parliament wants to do justice to Makerere, it should call upon government to take over the wage bill of the University.

He said that currently, the university management contributes 40 percent and the other 60 percent from government which is unfortunately not fulfilled.

“Government should take over full funding of what they call government sponsored students, and that full funding should be based on unit cost. If you asked the minister to present before this Parliament, the unit cost per student on the basis of government figures, you will get shocked. Currently, private students are actually subsiding government sponsored students because government does not meet its obligations,” Basalirwa said.

The vice chairperson of the NRM parliamentary caucus also Bukooli Central MP, Solomon Silwany there is a need to protect the students’ freedoms whereas his . West Budama North counterpart, Richard Okoth Othieno blamed the university’s problems on what he called mal-administration and suppression of student’s rights.

Othieno said, the vice chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe’s management style calls for Parliament’s urgent attention to save the university from being run as a primary school.

Tasked by Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga to explain whether the army officers had vacated the University, the State Minister for Internal Affairs Obiga Kania said that these had vacated in compliance with President Yoweri Museveni directive on Tuesday.

“But we must establish who deployed them. Someone must have deployed them and we need to establish,” said Kadaga.