Mbarara University Guild Elections 2013; the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
By Alex Taremwa
It wasn’t the first time I was visiting the University, I had been there before but this time round I found everything different. Candidates’ posters were hanged everywhere in and outside the University premises in full attractive colour, men and women donned in suits and attractive jewels with their armpits filled with manifestos and posters for their respective candidates for which they were campaigning.
Although my intention wasn’t initially to study the general mood of the students, the fact that there was very minimal academic progress and a lot student engagement in partisan propaganda, I decided to first disguise myself as a student and blend right in. I then had the clapping, chatters and noises coming out of the back chemistry laboratory just opposite the Guild president’s Office and since I had nothing to lose, I entered the room, had a seat and listened to this gentleman speak; he spoke so well that I reached for my immediate neighbor, whispered to her asking to know the gentleman’s name for the record.
“They are so many, you can never know who is who”, she replied. What does she mean they are so many yet I asked specifically for the speaker? I wondered. But luckily enough, the speaker had finished his task, handed the floor to another candidate as if they were in open campaigns and this was where I met him and asked if he had time to talk. Across the university compound are a lot of sits on which I assume students write their expectations from the guild government for lack of better means I guess and this specific was beautifully hand carrigraphed with the words “MUST, WE NEED CHANGE 2012/13”and on this particular seat is where Mr. Agaba Vianney and myself had the interview.
With his campaign slogan “Tested and proven”, Vianney is serving as an Information Minister in the current and outgoing Guild government and had served as a Class President for
Development Studies from which he hails as the only front runner which to him has not only gathered him the experience but also he has been seen by his co-students as a committed leader. When I asked him why instead of stepping down since he has served for a while, he responded that working with the Guild government has helped him notice several loopholes though he admits not all of them but he as Vianney couldn’t solve them for lack of administrative powers quest for the chair.
In his manifesto, Vianney intends to boost self-help projects that help on topping up tuition for needy students, work on the power for the library which is an issue to many. “You have to be part of the problem in order to find a solution”, he added.
Vianney says he is a well-known politician who helped many Members of Parliament in their campaigns back in 2010/11 so it those political allies that fund his quest. “Of course not mentioning my fellow students and family,” He added.
Now I was done with Vianney, so I sneaked into Guild Presidents’ Office to ask Ms. Nduhukire Sheila (the out-going Guild President MUST), how the office those 10 candidates are straining for has been for her throughout her term of office. Sheila was finalizing with another fellow when I entered. She had seen me before so she didn’t ask who I was. “So, tell me” I anxiously broke the silence. “9 boys and 1 lady are vying for your seat, was that the kind of competition you faced?” I asked.
We were just four candidates in the race and I was the only lady, she said. It was not a simple issue but I took care of it, I used strategy and I got voted into office but up to now, I can’t tell you why I was voted. Sheila admits her term was challenging for she was able to fulfill not all of what her manifesto entailed but challenged me to ask some of the students in order to get a balanced view.
When I asked her whether she thinks that Primah Tukamushaba, the only female running for the seat of 10 candidates will come top of her male counterparts in the Friday 5th, April poll, Sheila tactfully diverted my question by helping me get to Primah herself for a one on one.
Minutes later, Primah in company of 2 of her campaigning managers joined me on the benches I had chosen and we rubbed shoulders. Primah says being in race with 9 males makes her more confident. From the impression I got from her body emotions, she wasn’t that confident and sooner, she left all the questions to her manager to answer. Primah if voted to power, she intends to improve on Library services, the manager claims there is only one book for JAVA in the whole MUST library. She wants to extend wireless services across the campus by increasing infrastructure, student empowerment, development of sports and involvement of the Alumni are other components of her manifesto.
When I met Mucunguzi Vincent Rwampakani another candidate later on in the day (Wednesday), he said his manifesto is seeking to deliver fair justice, transparency and accountability. He rubbished claims that candidates are using lots of moneys in the campaigns explaining that using money might lead to entrenched corruption in his system which his Government is up against. He said his competitive advantage is his result orientation and truth-seeking.
I went ahead to meet the Chairman Electoral Commission, Mbarara University of Science and Technology who also happens to be the Guild speaker Rt. Hon Okwee Tony Justin, a Pharmacist who assured me that registers are ready, they haven’t recorded any injustices in the campaigns but admitted that Mbarara University had not had such a highly contested election before at least for as far as he remembers. He attributed the active engagement to the need for students to be involved in decisions that shape their respective destinies and thinks the female turn up although the ratio is 1:9 but their involvement shows how gender and female participation in partisan politics is consolidating.
Hon Okwee also distanced the University from the claims that candidates are discouraged from running in their respective political parties. “The university has no position on that, we have not disqualified anybody yet I know some of the candidates who are funded by NRM, FDC and other parties,” he explained. He also clearly reminded the candidates that activities contrary to the University constitution that may in any way undermine a free and fair election will be dealt with in accordance with the law. “My commission reserves to right to discontinue any candidate who engages in acts of vote rigging, bribery etc. but at MUST, we have never had such cases apart from once when the Dean Of Students’ Affairs halted an election while it was still on going on grounds of vote rigging and that was long ago,” he said.
According to the DOSA (Dean of Students’ Affairs)’s office, at least 2900 students are fully registered to vote. Candidates are required to have vigilantes on every polling station and they appeal to the vast MUST community to turn up in numbers and vote for its obligatory.
FULL CANDIDATES LIST AND COURSES:
- Michael Jackson Kabushenga (BBA 2)
- Andrew Okeng (MED 3),
- Ivan Kabuga Lucas (BIT 2),
- Julius Mubangizi (BIT 2),
- Livingstone Akankwatsa (BIT 2),
- Wycliff Muhumuza (BBA 2),
- Vincent Mucunguzi (BBA 2),
- Prima Tukamushaba (BBA 2),
- Agaba Vianney (BDS 2) and
- Wovatoyombye Junior (BBA 2).
SOURCE: ELECTORAL COMMISSION, MUST
Candidates are using the platforms of expression in place to fight individual battles instead of advancing pro-student issues.
Stephen Ogwere BDS 2
|These elections are unpredictable. Last year, at this same stage one could tell that either Sheila or Mark Henry would go through but in this election here, I can’t even name the top 5.
All I can say is that we need change 2013/14
Emiku Joseph, Pharmacy
Why would I even vote, I broke my leg in the campaigns. The candidate for whom we were campaigning hasn’t even visited me or called on my cell phone.
My interest in the election campaign was free alcohol and money oriented but now it’s nothing other than looking on.
Aruho Marvin BBA 1 speaking to me from his home in Kakyeka, a village where a section of MUST students stay. Other areas are Kashanyarazi, Old Village (near TASO), Booma and Rwebikoona.
These elections are not what we thought they would be. The big number has reduced the competition and the campaigns are not effective. I personally think the candidates are not finally capable to the whole music, disco and heavy mobilization campaigns. Wamboira Asha, BBA 3