Prof. Henry Alinaitwe, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in Charge of Finance and Administration at Makerere University, has urged the newly sworn-in Guild leaders to work with the university administration to find solutions to the issues affecting students.
He made remarks while presiding over the swearing-in ceremony of the Guild President, Lawrence Alionzi, his guild cabinet as well as Guild representatives, Chairpersons, and other student leaders, where he represented the Vice Chancellor.
Alionzi, who is affiliated with the National Unity Platform- NUP garnered 5,839 votes to beat competition from his National Resistance Movement- NRM rival Hussein Ibra who got 2,079 votes. and FDC’s Justice Tukamushaba who only managed 1,758 votes, among other contestants.
In his speech, Professor Alinaitwe noted that while he recognizes that there are numerous challenges confronting students, such as suspended students and delays in obtaining grades, the newly elected leaders should collaborate with the University administration to resolve these concerns without causing any havoc
Makerere students have long been known for holding protests within and outside the university to express their grievances, but Professor Alinaitwe describes such actions as hooliganism, which the new leadership should not support.
He commended the virtual election, which he believes solves chaos that has for long characterized the Guild Elections. “I am very glad that you yourselves have reported that the system works better because you have seen from the numbers I got from the chairperson of the electoral commission”, he said
Winfred Kabumbuli, the Dean of students, said while Alionzi might be ambitious to see things going right, he must know that he takes office at a time when the University is facing financial challenges and he must adjust.
Alionzi, who started by observing a moment of silence for the fallen UCU student who was killed during the Guild Campaigns in July, said that while his term is short, he is going to work hard to make sure that key issues affecting students are solved.
“It is already said that this is a very short-term of government, but this is a guild for the students and with the students, and it might be obscene to speak for the people, I will speak with people,” he said. Alionzi further said that one of the core issues he is going to advocate for is the immediate renovation of Lumumba hall, which has been pending since students were ordered to vacate in September.
In an earlier interview with URN, the Makerere vice-chancellor, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe said the University is lobbying for 100 billion Shillings to renovate all halls of residence. The renovation will start with Lumumba hall, which Professor Nawangwe says is estimated to cost 8.9 billion Shillings.
Apparently, students who were residing in Lumumba hall have since been re-distributed to other halls as the University prepares to kick start the renovation works. Other halls lined up for renovation include Mitchell hall, Livingstone, Nsibirwa, Nkrumah, University hall, Complex hall, Africa hall, and Mary Stewart hall.
For many years, several students have raised concerns about the state of the halls of residence at the University. Alionzi also said that he is looking at advocating for an increase in lecture rooms to avoid conducting lectures in halls of residence as it is now.
Alionzi replaces Shamim Nambassa. The initial elections were suspended in July a few hours before the voting exercise following the death of Micheal Betungura Bewatte, a former law student at Uganda Christian University, Kampala campus. Betungura had joined his FDC counterparts at Makerere to rally support for his old-time friend Tukamushaba.
The University Council subsequently banned all future physical guild elections and ruled that going forward, student leaders will be virtually voted. This was decided even before the committee started probing Betungura’s death.