Makerere's Administration, Students and the Ugandan Police

Makerere's Administration, Students and the Ugandan Police


These student strikes in Kampala are nothing new. The methods of dealing with these students before they strike- nothing new. The methods the Ugandan Police use to handle the strikes- NOTHING NEW.

By Lambert Rusoke
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First published: December 1, 2005


Yet again the highest institution of learning in the country was at the centre of controversy as there was another of those bad demonstrations that took all without spare. Makerere University is seen or believed by many to be the place that should be in position to mould the future of the young souls that would have made it to the top in their education career. But this entire thesis comes to a doubt when such barbaric acts take stage in society. Itís the same old song and every one who has been at campus will have to agree that students use these means as a way of letting the people concerned hear their cry, something that has years on end brought about agony to all the parties involved.


My complaint though remains that people in Uganda donít draw lessons from past events and therefore they seem to have learnt nothing and forgotten everything from the events that brought to the bad scenes the previous times. Itís pretty clear that these strikes by students, which have never been peaceful, take on peoplesí lives, property, and many other things. And this time around it wasnít going to be any different from the former strikes.

First the initiators of all this were the students and the university administration. The university decided to increase the retake fee (for those who have failed an exam), from a meagre 6,000 to a massive 120,000 and even more, indicating 200% increase. Prior to the demonstration, we hear that the Vice Chancellor walked out of a board meeting with the students guild without any clear cut conclusions, and it seems the ageing professor was not bothered about what his decisions would propel. So the first blame falls to the administration for their negligence. If you use a strategy, but apply the wrong tactics, then itís as if there was no strategy at all.

Then when the students had reason to strike because of the massive increase, they turned to violent means, looting peopleís businesses, burning peopleís vehicles, battling with the police and doing all sorts of evil acts. Its in here that even hoodlums from nearby Makerere get the chance to join the students and steal property in the brand of being one of the disappointed students. The students here got it wrong as well.

To every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction, so goes Newtonís third law of motion, and the Ugandan police is good at following this. With the command of the new police chief, who himself is an army man in Maj.Gen Kale Kaihura, tear gas coupled with rubber bullets to disperse the students was the next event. Itís in here that a first year student lost his life. The police claim they didnít shoot at the boy, that he was run over by fellow students in the scuffle, something that really sounded claptrap especially with the bullet marks on the body. Another wrong and this time from our trained force.

Well everything takes us back to the drawing board and see to it that we find solutions to prevent such acts next time. We should all develop a heart of drawing lessons from the past acts, so that we avoid losing innocent young lives. What about the poor traders who suffer from the looting by these students and yet actually nobody gets to compensate them.

By Lambert Rusoke
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First published: December 1, 2005
Lambert Rusoke is a student at Makerere University Business School.
rlamptey2003@yahoo.com.