Kampala, Uganda: Outgoing Makerere University Convocation chairman, Dr. Tanga Odoi has been accused of trying to rig Friday’s association assembly elections.
Charles Odongotho, one of the contestants for the post of chairperson speaking to Uganda Radio Network said Dr. Odoi, the outgoing chairman of the Convocation has usurped the powers of the returning officer and taken over the election.
Odongotho took particular issue with the continuing of the registration of voters less than 24 hour to the election by the Dr. Odoi led Committee. He wondered how Tanga, who is the chairman of the Electoral Commission of the ruling National Resistance Movement would stoop so low to influence the election. Dr. Tanga is said to be the promoter of the candidacy of George Turyamureeba Mugabi.
“It is a shame that Tanga is deceiving Uganda and the world that he is organizing a credible election. I’m a shamed that Tanga is a national leader the chairperson of the Electoral Commission of the biggest party but he engages in such activities at a small place like convocation. The academic registrar is clearly not in charge of the election yet he should be. Yesterday I went to the convocation office they were still registering people, as I speak to you now, they are still registering people,” says Odongotho.
However, in an interview, Dr. Tanga distanced himself from the accusations levelled against him. He instead accused Odongotho and former MP Gerald Karuhanga of causing confusion. He said that away far from what he is being accused of, he has no candidate he is supporting.
However as if to betray his earlier denial, Tanga said Turyamureeba is more organized than the other candidates he is contesting with.
Dr. Tanga also explained that although the Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza, the University Academic Registrar is the returning officer for the election, he nonetheless works under the guidance of the executive committee.
Meanwhile, more than 30 Makerere University convocation members have petitioned the University’s Academic Registrar Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi over irregularities in the process of the forthcoming elections of the new convocation Executive Committee. The convocation is set to elect a new executive on December 30th, 2022 during the annual general assembly to be held at the Professor Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility at Makerere University main campus.
Makerere University Convocation is the statutory body that brings together its staff, alumni, and other stakeholders. The Universities and other Tertiary Institutions Act establishes a Convocation in every such educational institution. But, with one day left to the highly contested elections, convocation members including Charles Odongtho, Gerald Karuhanga, Isaac Kwagala, and Aaron Oguttu among through their lawyers of Lukwago and Co. Advocates petitioned Buyinza who is the secretary to the convocation, and also the returning officer expressing their grievances over the manner in which the election process is being conducted.
The petitioners almost all who have expressed interest in participating in the election claimed that the process leading to it is tainted with unfairness. They claim that, to date, the returning officer has failed to display the voters register on the notice board for scrutiny, update, and verification by all stakeholders and the general public. Also, the voter register circulated electronically is full of discrepancies, mismatches, and falsehoods and leaves out a number of qualified members of the convocation.
Furthermore, they claim that many entries on the register lack vital particulars and details of the members, for instance; full name, receipt number, course, and year of graduation. The petitioners also allege that there are persons who appear on the members roll but have never graduated pointing. Among those pointed out include; Abenitwe Mandiful, Otim Samuel and Mutesi Hadijah, a student of Mass Communication and Journalism registered on the roll as number 3063 with a receipt No. 4100.
It is from this background that they are requesting the returning officer to first; update and clean up the voters register to reflect the qualified and all paid-up members of the convocation and halt the AGM and elections of the Executive Committee until the whole process is streamlined to ensure a free and fair election in compliance with the principles and provisions of the law governing election in Uganda.
Speaking to Uganda Radio Network, one of mentioned as illegally included on the register, Hadijah Mutesi, distanced herself from the list. “I saw that petition, but that was not me, I haven’t graduated, so I can’t be a voter,” says Mutesi. Although the convocation is planning to hold the election tomorrow, Dr. Tanga Odoi, the current Chairperson of the convocation told this publication on Tuesday that the new leadership will only take office April 2023.
Dr. Tanga was already inaugurated as a member of the University Council representing the convocation. Eight people have already expressed interest in the top position of the Convocation and campaigns are in top gear.
These include among oTthers the former Makerere University Police commander, Jackson Mucunguzi, journalist Charles Odongtho, and former MP Gerald Karuhanga. Others are; Ezra Byakutangaaza, Daniel Bateeze, George Turyamureeba Mugabi, Henry Kisekka and Dr. Tibingina Anthony.