Makerere University vice chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe has appealed to students to stay away from the on-going staff strike and let the institution's management resolve the standoff.
Majority of the students have continued to stay out classrooms since the academic staff laid down tools about two weeks ago. The sit-down strike was declared following the suspension of Dr Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi, the chairperson of the Makerere University Academic Staff Association (Muasa) by Nawangwe.
Dr Kamunyu was suspended on January 17, for alleged indiscipline and inciting violence among Makerere University staff. He was also accused of intimidation of university officials, using abusive and or insulting language, insubordination and making false statements, among others.
The angry staff have since demanded for his unconditional reinstatement else they stay out of classrooms. And now the students have demanded for an explanation as to why the impasse has continued to persist despite assurances by university managers.
Attempts by student leaders to meet the vice chancellor for a possible explanation were frustrated by the military police which blocked the students from accessing administration block yesterday Thursday.
Nawangwe said in an interview that Makerere students had already earned themselves a reputation and advised that engaging in a strike to support lecturers would further taint their already earned "good name."
"Students please keep out of this. Let us resolve this matter. A lot of your colleagues are being taught, a few of you are not being taught but we are handling it. If you choose to blindly follow agitation which we believe is being done for selfish interests, then you are shooting yourselves in the foot," Nawangwe said.
Nawangwe said the striking staff are not on the side of the students as they are trying to protect people who are against student interests.
Meanwhile the students have petitioned Lorna Magara, the chairperson of the university council over the on-going unresolved staff-management woes. The students seek to be permitted to mediate between the two parties, the university management and the striking staff.
In the 3-page petition, guild speaker Isaac Kwagala said the students were running out of patience as the promised end to the impasse has not come to fruition. The petition that has also been copied to President Yoweri Museveni, as the university visitor, Education and Sports minister Janet Kataha Museveni, members of Makerere management and all staff associations.