Makerere Virtual Guild Campaigns Spark Concerns Among Students, Former Leaders

Makerere University students and former guild leaders have expressed concerns about the organization of guild elections which will be conducted virtually.

Unlike past elections, all activities, including campaigns, debates, voting, and tallying, will be handled virtually as stated in the new Makerere Student’s Guild Statute 2022, which was drafted by the University Council on September 16.

This followed the death of Michael Betungura Bewatte, a UCU student who was killed while taking part in Guild Campaigns in July 2022.

As the University plans told to hold Guild elections, students and former student leaders argue that; since University politics is a platform where some students launch their political careers, conducting the election process virtually will deny them a right to hold public campaigns.

Asuman Basalirwa, the former Makerere University Guild President says that introducing virtual campaigns is being used by the University to curtail the political and freedom of association of the students which he says must be changed.

He argues that by curtailing students from holding public rallies, the University is undermining the capacity of the students to grow into credible leaders.

Lawrence Alionzi, the Guild President explained that he has advocated for the reinstatement of physical campaigns and he is awaiting a final decision from the University Council. 

He explains that virtual elections cannot guarantee free and fair elections. Alionzi says that the students’ affairs committee should declare physical campaigns as well as amend the students’ statute that introduced the virtual campaigns.

But Isiah Mpiirwomugisha, who contested for Guild President says that he supports virtual campaigns because they are less expensive. He however says that he is concerned about the transparency of the entire process. 

Mpiirwomugisha claims that people running the virtual systems connive with some individuals in the race and they are capable of being compromised to favor them. 

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