Dr. William Tayeebwa, a lecturer in the Mass Communication Department, told URN that whereas the payment of staff salary somehow cooled the lecturers tempers, majority are not happy because banks took off money from individual accounts faster than it had been paid.
Dr Josephine Ahikire is an Associate Professor in the School of Women and Gender Studies, Makerere University and Executive Chair of the Centre for Basic Research (CBR) submitting in the Friday Muasa Assembly
Makerere University Academic Staff Association-MUASA is expected to call off its month-long strike this morning. A senior lecturer told URN last evening on condition of anonymity, that MUASA is in a rush to call off the strike to save face.
According to the lecturer, the MUASA executive fears that president, Yoweri Museveni who has ignored them since the strike started in mid-October could direct the reopening of the university.
President, Museveni ordered Makerere University indefinitely on November 1, 2016 following failed negotiations between the university council, management and striking staff over their unpaid salary incentives for eight months.
According sources since the closure of the university, Museveni refused to speak to any MUASA official and barred Education Minister, Janet Museveni from making any contacts with the striking staff.
Sources say Museveni is reconsidering reopening the university following the recent move by Dr. Kizza Besigye, the former Forum for Democratic Change-FDC party president to fundraise Shillings 30 billion for the lecturer's salary incentives.
According to the sources, the move by Besigye was intended to expose president Museveni and his failure to resolve the stalemate at Makerere University.
Sources in Makerere University indicated that after the attempted opposition fundraising drive at Makerere Main Gate, state operatives immediately convened a press conference on December 3rd on behalf of the MUASA leadership to denounce the contributions of politicians. Now, a lecturer at Makerere University says he is privy to information that the president intends to order the reopening of the university.
"It is true and I have it on good authority that on Monday, this very Monday, the president the way he closed it (Makerere) by decree he would most likely declare it open by decree," said the source. Adding that; "Imagine the scenario whereby we go on Monday at 10am? So why the Monday meeting at 10:00 am? Actually the main reason is to out-stage the president to save face that we are the ones who have opened."
According to the source, the lecturers fear that once the president orders the reopening of the university, they are likely to be subjected to new terms of employment. "It is going to start with the principals, deans and heads of department. Number one, the principals have also been meeting with council to see those who are for opening and those against," said another source.
Adding that; "Council also met with the deans of schools and right from the other general assembly, you could hear that most of the deans had converted." There has been mass mobilisation of lecturers to vote for the reopening of the university this morning. The College Principals were expected to meet on Saturday December 17th 2016, but their meeting was postponed on request from MUASA. The College Principals were expected to announce procedures of reopening the university as guided by the council.
Prof. Edward Kirumira, the Principal of Makerere College of Humanities and Social Sciences, confirmed the postponement of the meeting. "You know we are middle level managers, we are neither part of management nor directly involved in MUASA. So our meeting that we wre supposed to have had on Saturday was postponed. We will possibly meet after their assembly," Prof. Kirumira said in a phone interview.
Meanwhile reports show tension is mounting among MUASA members. According to information obtained by our reporter, some lecturers are desperate to denounce the strike, a precondition by government to re-open the University.
"Most of us don't want to stand for leadership positions. It's better to go back to work and go back to the drawing board. Council fixed us to a point where we now turn guns on government, which makes our strike meaningless. This strike was for council not govt. If you still want to win, then go to work and discuss with government but this strike wasn't for Museveni like it or not," one professor submitted.
Fred Kakooza, a journalism lecturer said that in order to resolve the impasse, it is better for the University to stop evening programmes which attract extra load for lecturers. "I believe Makerere University's financial challenges can be sorted through government taking over the entire wage bill like it is for other government employees such that the university no longer contributes to this wage bill. As it stands now the university is almost spending 100% to contribute to the wage bill and incentive," Kakooza
Adding that; "if the University does not want to pay staff for working on the evening programme, all private students wishing to join Makerere be encouraged to competitively apply for the available slots on the day programme. This means that staff will work between 8 - 5pm." By Friday evening last week, the lecturers had started receiving their November salaries plus one month incentive as promised by council.
Dr. William Tayeebwa, a lecturer in the Mass Communication Department, told URN that whereas the payment of staff salary has in away cooled the tempers of staffs, majority are not happy because banks took off money from individual accounts faster than it had been paid.
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This according to Dr. Tayeebwa has left many staffs infuriated. Apparently, a lecturer who was expecting Shs5million from both incentive and salary has remained with about Shillings 2 or less.