Makerere University student leaders have faulted management for the current stalemate between staff and administration. The stalemate has seen students go without lectures for more than two weeks now ever since the lecturers laid down tools on January 21.
Makerere guild speaker, Isaac Kwagala expressed the students' dissatisfaction in a statement issued on Monday.
"The students guild has noted with grave concern the manner in, which the university management has approached and reacted to this issue," he said.
"It is regrettable that the university management has deliberately chosen to deny the existence of a strike, and to misrepresent the true state of affairs at the university by consistently misleading the general public that lectures are happening in the university, whereas not," Kwagala states.
The striking staff are protesting the suspension of their association leaders; Bennet Magara, the chairperson of Makerere Administrative Staff Association (Masa), his secretary general Joseph Kalema and Dr Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi, the chairperson Makerere University Academic Staff Association (Muasa). Vice chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe accuses the trio of misconduct and violation of the terms of their employment.
Kwagala says both students and their leaders initially chose to remain calm and patient - hoping that this dispute could be resolved amicably by management and staff associations.
He says that they have now come to the sad realisation that they were naïve and overly optimistic in thinking that the staff associations and management had the best interests of students at heart, and that they would quickly arrive at a negotiated settlement. Kagwala said they have henceforth withdrawn all cooperation with university management.
"The students guild will, for as long as all students are not studying or being instructed by lecturers in all academic activities that they normally have to be instructed in, will not deal with management in any matter, including but not limited to, not participating or organising the forthcoming guild government elections," he said.
"The students guild also informs all Makerereans that, if the strike has not been permanently called off, a students' general assembly shall be held on Wednesday 6th February at Makerere University Freedom Square starting 10am."
He said it is at the general assembly that students will determine their next course of action in the struggle to ensure they are taught. Nawangwe had in a previous interview appealed to students to stay away from the ongoing staff strike and let management resolve the standoff.
Nawangwe observed that Makerere students had already earned themselves a reputation and advised that engaging in a strike to support lecturers would further taint their 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, and then you are shooting yourselves in the foot," Nawangwe said.