Tanga Odoi defends security actions during MAK Convocation election

 Makerere University Convocation chairperson, Dr Tanga Odoi has defended the security invasion of their Annual General Meeting held on December 30, 2022.

Makerere University Convocation is the statutory body that brings together its staff and alumni. The body, established by the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act was due to elect its leadership last week, when its members failed to agree with the returning officer over the process.

The members led by former Ntungamo Municipality MP, Gerald Karuhanga asked returning officer Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza to postpone the exercise in order to correct the anomalies that they had highlighted by both contestants and members of the convocation. The anomalies included the voter’s registers which reportedly had missing names of the people who were eligible to vote.

Eligible voters are Makerere University alumni who have been able to pay an annual subscription fee of 10,000 Shillings. But many of the people who turned up to participate in the process questioned the verification system of voters, suspecting foul play, saying the returning officer delayed publishing the lists of voters and left out many people who had come to vote.

Besides the register, there was late delivery of voting materials which delayed the exercise which had initially been planned to start at 9am and end by 3pm. On polling day, the materials arrived amidst heavy deployment at the Prof. Yusuf Kironde Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium prompting candidates to call for a postponement.

But Tanga Odoi, whose term of office as Makerere University Convocation Chairperson ends in April, insisted on holding the election before chaos erupted.

Military personnel together with Police commanded by Gerald Twishimwe, the Commander of Kampala Metropolitan Police North stormed the Auditorium and dispersed the meeting. In the process, at least four people were arrested and seven out of the nine candidates stepped down accusing Odoi of messing up the exercise.

Those who pulled out of the race included Superintendent of Police Jackson Mucunguzi, former Ntungamo Municipality MP Gerald Karuhanga, Journalist and lawyer Charles Odongotho, Makerere University staff Tibayingana Anthony, and Ezra Byakutangaza, Bateeze Daniel, Suuna Henry and Byakatonda Abdul.

However, Tanga Odoi told journalists at the Convocation offices in Makerere University today that some of the convocation members whom he referred to as hooligans behaved in a violent manner which prompted the police to come in and restore peace. He accused them of turning the convocation into a political election in contravention of the Convocation’s rules.

Tanga further contends that while the electoral process generated a lot of criticism, they followed the Convocation Constitution after some of the people were dragged out and that the assembly continued and had a peaceful election in which George Turyamureeba won the race after defeating Tom Otim.

In the history of the Convocation, this year’s election was the most contested and most vibrant. The new leaders are expected to start their four-year term of office in April 2023.

In an interaction with URN, Gerald Karuhanga, one of the candidates who withdrew from the election said Tanga Odoi was the cause of the chaos at the assembly because he took the powers of the returning officer.

“…The Returning Officer of the convocation is the Academic Registrar but Tanga in his weird approach as always, decided to hijack the whole process, and he is exactly the source of that chaos at this so-called election, and the unfortunate event,” Karuhanga told URN. He also faulted them for refusing to include thousands of eligible voters on the final register.

He accused Tanga of doing all possible to ensure the success of his son Tanga Collins who was contesting for the position of Publicity Secretary. But Tanga defended himself saying that he could not stop his son from competing in an election. He however distanced himself from accusations of favouring his son’s camp in the elections.

Karuhanga said candidates who withdrew from the election are still planning their next course of action. “We are considering engaging a number of authorities, one of them is engaging the University administration, and courts of law, so we are yet to finalize our next course of action,” he said.

Another candidate Byakutangaza declined to comment on the matter, “I wouldn’t want to comment because of personal reasons,” he told URN when contacted on phone.

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