Saturday, April 30, 2011


This week the US government has protested the Uganda government’s alleged attempts to block communication on social media networks and live broadcast of the ‘walk-to-work’ protests.

The Deputy State Department Spokesman, Mr Mark Toner said in the statement that the US government was also concerned about the loss of life and continued arrest of opposition leaders by the security forces during the protests.

This follows several directives from the Uganda Communications Commission, the communications regulator, to several Internet service providers instructing them to block Face-book and Twitter networks for 24 hours during the protests that left five people dead.

The same body has also approached broadcasting houses and advised them to avoid live coverage of the ‘walk to work’ demonstrations against high fuel and other commodity prices. These actions deserve outright condemnation by all people of goodwill. Since in a democracy people should not use armed means to demand for their legitimate rights, the only platform left for them to express themselves is through peaceful demonstrations and the media.

Freedom of expression, the media and peaceful assembly are fundamental human rights and critical components of a democratic society. The government should respect these rights as granted to the Ugandan people by our national constitution in order to make public officials accountable.
Gagging the media and free speech can only inflame the situation and drive the dissenting voices underground. This is a situation that should not be allowed to manifest especially after we have had largely peaceful general elections. The issues for which people have reallied to protest are real and need the urgent attention of the government .
The high cost of living is unbearable for the majority of Ugandans. People can hardly live within their means. And they have now come out in a spirited show of solidarity to demand for government’s urgent intervention. This is the best civil manner in which people can express themselves.
The government, therefore, should not block these un-confrontational means of communication left for the people to channel their grievances. Our national leaders should instead listen and address the critical issues affecting Ugandans. Only then shall the country have peace.

The writer is a Journalist and Advocate of the Hih Court of Uganda

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Makerere Should define its riorities

Makerere University has asked government to approve a proposal to increase student’s tuition fees up from shs.3m to 6m per academic year. According to the Makerere university Secretary, Mr Muhwezi Kahunda, the increase in tuition fees is necessary because the expenses incurred at the university are very high.

For sometime now Makerere has been toiling with the idea of increasing fees but has faced strong resistance from both the students and the general public. With the liberalization of University education, the increased number of student enrolment and , introduction of many new courses one would have expected student fees to remain reasonable and affordable. Unfortunately this is not the case.

With the increased cost of living in Uganda today due to high fuel and other commodity prices , one wonders how parents will afford to pay tuition fees for their children at the university.

The proposed fees increment will have a significant disincentive effect on youngsters yarning for university education. The Makerere administration should ensure the right balance between enabling as many people as possible to get a degree and helping the university sustain its finances. When a middle level public servant earns estimated 15 million per annum in salaries and allowances how can they afford to send their children to Makerere.
And here is the irony. While the Makerere university claims to be short on money to fund its operations, they can afford at the same time, to buy a Land Cruiser VX, at shs. 360m for the vice-chancellor. Already the lavish life style of the top administrators at Makerere has attracted criticism from Dr Tanga Odoi, the Chairman of the lecturers’ association MUASA.
DR Tanga Odoi has stated: “ Makerere’s problem is not shortage of funds but the failure to understand our priorities.” He is spot on. The hypocrisy of those charged with the management of our public institutions must be stopped.
And in this case, Makerere University administration must fully explain the resources needed to maintain the institution’s national , regional and global status and offer the very best student experience without fleecing the unsuspecting public. Makerere should not be given a blank cheque when its vast resources are not put to proper use.