Gerald Karuhanga speaking before walking out
There was chaos at Makerere University on Friday as the alumni and staff elected new leaders of their umbrella body; the Convocation. The chaos resulted from a standoff between the current leaders who were organizing the election and some of the candidates.
Throughout the day, the Annual General meeting failed to agree on anything starting with the agenda of the day. Many members led by the candidates highlighted numerous hitches that would not enable the election to go on smoothly.
Led by former Ntungamo Municipality MP Gerald Karuhanga, the group asked the current chairman Dr. Tanga Odoi and the returning officer Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza to postpone the exercise so as to rectify the anomalies they had identified. By virtue of being the Academic Registrar, Buyinza is the Secretary to Convocation and the returning officer.
But the pleas fell on deaf ears as both Odoi and Buyinza insisted that voting must take place and that those who were not interested should walk away. This prompted Karuhanga’s supporters to start shouting interrupting the exercise for about 30 minutes.
To break the impasse, police and the military that had been deployed in big numbers, stormed the Auditorium of the Prof. Yusuf Kironde Lule building where the meeting was taking place and violently dragged out everybody who was shouting.
Gerald Twishimye, the Commander of Kampala Metropolitan Police North said they could not just look on when a few individuals were interrupting the session.
Twishimye said he had been deployed to ensure that voting takes place as scheduled.
After order was restored, Buyinza called for the nomination of candidates, and for the position of chairman, nine candidates were nominated who included; Superintendent of Police Jackson Mucunguzi, Gerald Karuhanga, Charles Odongotho, George Mugabi Turyamureeba, Tom Otim, Bateeze Daniel, Suuna Henry, Tibayingana Anthony, Ezra Byakutangaza, and Byakatonda Abdul.
However, after the nomination seven out of the nine candidates stepped down accusing Odoi of messing up the exercise. Only Otim and Turyamureba remained in the race.
Mucunguzi, said he was saddened to see the brutality that was meted out to those who were opposed to proceeding with the election. He added that in good conscience, he wouldn’t remain in the race.
Karuhanga accused Prof. Buyinza of abdicating his responsibilities.
For his part, journalist Odongotho said Dr. Odoi was a dictator who had bungled up the whole exercise.
Although he remained in the race, Otim Tom who is a deputy academic registrar decried the incompetence that was exhibited in the organizing of the election. He said even though he works in the office of the Academic Registrar, his name was not on the voter’s list.
George Turyamureba, one of the two candidates who remained in the race and was later to emerge the winner, said it was a good thing that those who were intent on disrupting the exercise walked out. Turyamureba is alleged to have been Odoi’s choice. In fact, Odoi’s son Collins Tanga was on the same team as Turyamureba seeking to be the association’s publicity secretary.
In the history of the Convocation, this year’s election has been the most contested and most vibrant. The new leaders are expected to start their four-year term of office in April 2023.
Ordinarily the chairman of the convocation is a member of the University Council; the highest decision-making body of the university. A new council was sworn in last week with Lorna Magara and Dan Kidega elected chairperson and vice chairman respectively.