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Makerere Students Issue Ultimatum for Issuance of Graduation Gowns

The 70th graduation ceremony which is scheduled to start on Tuesday, January 14 has suffered a major setback arising out of the delayed issuance of graduation gowns to the graduands. Only 7,000 out of more than 13,000 graduands have so far been able to secure gowns, as the ceremonies draw closer.
One of the student demonstrators at Makerere Freedom Square where the preparations for tomorrow's graduation are on-going.

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The Makerere University Students Guild has given the university management an ultimatum of the close of business today, to ensure all graduating students receive their gowns, or they block the graduation ceremony. 

The 70th graduation ceremony which is scheduled to start on Tuesday, January 14 has suffered a major setback arising out of the delayed issuance of graduation gowns to the graduands. Only 7,000 out of more than 13,000 graduands have so far been able to secure gowns, as the ceremonies draw closer.

Initial reports indicated that the supplier; Team uniforms limited, was holding the gowns until his outstanding balance for the production of patented gowns for last year’s graduation ceremony, has been cleared. Makerere University charges up to 98,000 Shillings from each student as the cost of the graduation gown.    

It is for this reason that the student’s guild had convened a press conference, to address journalist on the matter. But the guild leaders who had turned up for a 10 a.m. briefing were welcomed by police deployment at their offices, and as a result, the briefing was foiled. 

Nonetheless, Joshua Lawel Muhwezi, the Makerere Guild Information Minister says the absence of gowns a day before the ceremonies, casts a dark shadow on what is supposed to be a moment for celebrating triumphs. 

“The moments preceding graduations are always those of excitement, warmth and joy. Unfortunately, today we find ourselves in the opposite of this situation. With thousands of students yet to get their gowns, [College of Humanities and Social Sciences] alone which is the biggest college that has more than 2000 has not received a single gown or cap,” Muhwezi said. 

Muhwezi argues that Makerere University does not lack funds but rather suffers from financial mismanagement and under-utilization of its assets.  

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Muhwezi alludes to a syndicate in the production of gowns at the university, pointing out that such operations are the reason the university found itself in a crisis. 

“We have information that this is just one of the syndicates, they usually play in the senate and the main building, the the contractor has roots in the senate and now someone wants the contracts and hence the sabotage and now we are all in a crisis and this is what happens every other day, we have a mere group of hungry mafias leading the university, permanent members of the council,” he adds. 

According to Muhwezi, before the institution resurrects the debate of fees increment, financial management and issues of university management should be settled.  He wondered why a university that had in 2009 emphasized that it was doing away with non-core business and only concentrate on teaching and training, research, knowledge transfer would now be directly involved in the production of gowns. 

The students said that the university management has only today, to meet its side of the bargain by ensuring that all graduating students have their gowns before the beginning of the ceremonies.  

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Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, the institution’s Vice Chancellor has insisted that the graduation will proceed as scheduled despite the inconveniences caused to the parents and graduands.   

Professor Nawangwe in a statement released on Sunday, January 12, 2020, apologized to the graduands citing that the university had put in place emergency measures to ensure that gowns are ready for the ceremonies to proceed.  

“Management regrets the inconvenience and anxiety created by the contractor’s failure to honour the contract and assures all the graduands that everything necessary is being done to ensure a smooth graduation ceremony,”  Nawangwe added. 

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