Mixed Feelings Ahead of MAK General Assembly

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Deus Muhwezi Kamunyu, the MUASA Publicist, says agreeing to the offer doesnt mean that they have called off the strike.
Makerere University has been closed for almost a month now over a lecturers' pay strike.
There are mixed feelings as Makerere University lecturers convene their General Assembly this afternoon to decide on whether or not to suspend their month long strike. Makerere University Academic Staff Association-MUASA called the General Assembly after striking a compromise with the University council over their unpaid salary incentives on Tuesday.

During the meeting, Dr. Charles Wana Etyem the chairman council agreed to immediately effect payment for the November salary and a one month incentive arrears. "Other incentive arrears for four months be paid by 30th June 2017. Incentive allowance after June 2016 is a matter still to be discussed by council and that the chair council will consult with relevant authorities to ensure the above is achieved," read a statement signed by Dr. Etyem on Tuesday.

However, Deus Muhwezi Kamunyu, the MUASA Publicist, says agreeing to the offer doesn't mean that they have called off the strike. "We did not agree to open the University; we did not agree that the proposed offer was okay. We only treat the coming offer as a precondition for us to begin talking including the General Assembly which is there today. This is an offer to the fraternity. It's upon them to decide," Kamunyu told URN this morning.

Various lecturers continue to offer varied views regarding their strike.  Some of the lecturers want the strike maintained until Makerere university management clears what it owes them; while others say they are ready to resume work.

A female lecturer who spoke to URN on condition of anonymity appealed to staff to look at the wider picture of the university and staff relations with government. "If we choose to continue with the strike as some colleagues are proposing and as most of us were convinced at the start of the strike, then what this means is that no salaries will be paid till the University opens. Colleagues, we are truly stuck between a rock and a hard place. We must learn, which tactic to draw at what point," she said. 

Adding that; "at the moment, government cannot bail us out as we can clearly see. Therefore, continuing to strike will widen the already existing gap between us and government since a number of officials have noted that solutions can be found if we are working. Staying home will not solve anyone's problem."

Mathias Mulumba, another lecturer blames the crisis on Makerere's contribution to the wage bill. He asks MUASA to deal with the real problems as opposed to treating symptoms.

"We (MUASA, Strike Management Team (SMC) should figure out a way of assisting Management and Council convince to government to take over the bill.  I know that the visitation committee will allude to this in its report and probably might be ignored by whoever will receive the report. We need to address the problem and not mere symptoms. Whether a General Assembly or not let us focus on the problem. The roadmap given by the bursar could easily be defiled if the wage bill issue still stands," Mulumba said.

Ernest Zibonera, another lecturer says the MUASA leadership is incapable of deliberating their issues and accused them of being compromised. "Deus (Muasa Publicist) informed us that he arrived in the meeting late, Prof. Agea was in Jinja, Dr. Olupot sent an email that he stormed out of the meeting, Dr. Gumoshabe, switched sides and he became a member of management and Council, MUASA chair is ever quiet and highly unpredictable. It seems there is something fishy. That's why I oppose such strikes. I don't like being led into something that the leader is not ready to sustain," Dr. Zibonera said. 

Another lecturer told URN that it is unlikely that the Council will have money to top up their salaries until the end of January 2017 when students have paid. "Don't cry if there is no December salary, eat your incentive sparingly or if the salaries flow normally, we will have graduated into fools because it will prove that we were so easy to fool and arm twist, the lecturer said.

Adding that, "We will be just a confused bunch of ungrateful opportunists who are not even worthy of 'his' (Museveni) salary enhancement scheme. We will seriously need to consider apologizing to our students, parents and donors for the absolutely unnecessary inconvenience we have naively caused them, and take oath that we will never do it again."