21 students of Makerere University whose property was destroyed by security personnel during protests against the 15 per cent tuition increment have been compensated by General Salim Saleh.
Last month, Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers together with police officers broke into halls of residence and destroyed students property.
Patrick Nsamba, the guild representative councillor (GRC) for Lumumba hall says that during a meeting with Saleh and 15 student leaders at his Kapeeka industrial area in Nakaseke district on October 7, the affected students were compensated with Shs 21 million.
“Out of goodwill, the general condemned the act of brutality by the military and sympathized with the victims of this act. It was this spirit that he decided to make a personal compensation up to a tune of Shs 21 million to these students,” Nsamba who also doubles as the guild finance minister said.
The students lost TV sets, utensils, mobile phones, laptops, rice cookers, students and among others. The students who received compensation are Derrick Ndyamuhaki, Albert Lotyang, Patrick Nsamba, Emmanuel Cherotich, Patrick Ssenyonjo, Ivan Kanabo, James Ssebidde, Nelson Mugisha, Joseph Owomugisha, Elvis Omoit, Joseph Marta Muzinda, Philip Winner Byonaniwe, Godfrey Kamukama, Micheal Tayebwa, Arnold Arinaitwe and Nicholas Kwesiga.
Others are Joseph Mukamba, Alfred Taremwa, Micheal Maganda, Tadeo Nyakoojo, Abiney Kitooke and Ivan Oyesigye. According to Nsamba, whereas there were calls for compensation of students with medical bills arising out of brutality, the money offered by Saleh could not handle both property and medical bills.
The student leaders meeting with Saleh and the subsequent compensation has been received with mixed feelings amongst the student community with some accusing the student leaders of betrayal.
David Fredrick Nyanzi, a 3rd-year law student and the president Makerere Law Society wonders where the relevant stakeholders in the education sector were to warrant the intervention of Saleh.
“Salim Saleh, I don’t want to believe he is trying to buy off the students but maybe that is also another thing that should be debating about because that compensation was not publicized. Why didn’t they say it in the open that Salim Saleh is compensating, why didn’t they come to Lumumba and ask the students because also compensating through some students’ leaders may not be effective,” Nyanzi observes.
Nyanzi also wonders why the compensation was not institutionalized and only handled by an individual.
"My first question would be who is Gen Saleh acting as when we have a minister of Education who is also the first lady. Why isn’t it the first lady to come out and compensate? One would wonder why. I don’t want to dwell so much in that but we're having so many stakeholders who should be doing what Salim Saleh did. Maybe he did it as a retired army personnel but I would like to believe that there is a unit in the army that is in charge of that because what was vandalism was by done by the army but I would like to think also institutions also supposed to do what they are supposed to do." said Nyanzi.
Joshua Lawel Muhwezi, the 85th guild information minister insists that the students’ leadership is still as determined as it was on the very first day they set out with the students’ demands.
“Our demands shall not and shall never be compromised until they are responded to. The management is making all efforts to divide us using those that are among us (fellow students) and many have bowed to their favours and chosen to be administrations channel of propaganda,” Muhwezi noted.
He urged the students with compensatory issues to register with their leaders with proof of vandalized property for the guild to lobby for compensation.
“I would like to congratulate guild leaders from Lumumba hall who effectively managed the process of compensating their residents whose property was vandalized. We encourage all those who were not captured to register with their respective guild representatives with evidence for compensation,” Muhwezi adds.