Students at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) have Monday held a demonstration demanding that staff resume teaching, only days after the lecturers and administrative staff declared a strike.
Members of staff at MUST laid down their tools last week on Thursday protesting what they say is mismanagement of university resources, affairs and harassment of staff by the Vice Chancellor, Prof Celestino Obua and University Secretary, Melchior Kihagaro Byaruhanga.
They demand that the Vice Chancellor and Secretary step down pending investigations. They also want the Vice Chancellor to retire and for a search committee to be empowered to appoint new vice chancellor.
On Sunday evening, students leaders issued a notice mobilizing the students community to participate in a peaceful demonstration on Monday, to pressure the staff to resume teaching.
“Dear students, due to the complicated situation in MUST as the semester ends; you are requested to turn up as a team to solve the following problems since you are the stakeholders of this university,” reads the notice in part.
Students are concerned over the lecturers’ failure to teach, the closure of lecture rooms at a time when students need to prepare for end-of-semester examinations as well as the closure of the university library which is critical for research and revision.
Students gathered in the campus on Monday, where they held a procession as they chanted. They demanded that the top management resolves its matters with staff so as to return the university to normalcy.
The students argue that as time goes, they are wasting critical time, their budgets are constrained yet their landlords will soon be knocking on their doors.
They group gathered outside the Vice Chancellor’s office making their demands. He later met them with appeals to calm down albeit with no immediate solution.
Speaking to SoftPower News on Monday, Prof Obua said: “Students came in the morning, definitely they need to be taught since they are going to begin their exams next week”.
“Of course they are disappointed, they are not being taught. You know that members of staff are on strike. I met them and explained the situation to them”.
He has appealed to students to remain patient as they await official communication from the delegation which has moved to Kampala to meet the University Chancellor Prof Charles Lwanga Olweny as well as Council Chairman, Dr John Mbonye, to discuss issues at hand and forge a way forward.
According to one of the senior staff at MUST, the delegation will also hold a meeting with the Parliamentary committee of Education and Sports.
The police spokesperson for Rwizi region, ASP Samson Kasasira told this news website that security personnel had been deployed at the university to control any violence that may arise from students.
“There is no violence; no arrest. Police is just there monitoring the situation,” said Kasasira.