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Makerere University Issues New Poll Regulations

Previously each of the nine halls of residence in Makerere University would host one rally before the main rally involving all candidates at Makerere ceremonial grounds -The Freedom Square.
One of the guild candidates campaigning last year

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Makerere University has banned all guild rallies in halls of residence and restricted guild campaigns to only four rallies, according to the newly approved Makerere University Guild election regulations. Previously each of the nine halls of residence in Makerere University would host one rally before the main rally involving all candidates at Makerere ceremonial grounds -The Freedom Square.

The new regulations were approved by the former Makerere University Council chaired by Dr. Eng. Charles Wana-Etyem during a meeting held on December 6, 2018. A copy of the three-page rules titled "Makerere University Students Guild Constitution Elections Regulations No.1 of 2018" seen by URN were published in the Uganda Uganda on Friday last week January 11, 2019. 

The new regulations also bar students from acts of hooliganism and use of obscene language during the campaigns. Aspiring guild candidates shall be required pay non-refundable fee of Shillings 200,000, Guild Representative Council-GRC Shillings 100,000 and Students Common Room for halls of residence Shillings 50,000 down from Shillings 60,000.

The new regulations also put restrictions on misconduct such as corrupt tendencies, hooliganism, violence, use of abusive/ obscene language, destruction of property, defacing university buildings, roads or any other university property and unauthorized processions. Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, the Makerere University Vice Chancellor, says the regulations are aimed at creating stability at the institution.

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According to the regulations, a student is culpable of using abusive language when he/she; "uses language that is regarded as vulgar, rude, shocking because it is related to being too obviously related to sex or showing sex, immoral, improper, offensive, distasteful, filthy and pornographic language that is likely to offend others."

The regulation defines 'hooliganism' as noisy, violent rowdy and or vulgar behavior towards others or the public and includes willful destruction of property.  The regulations provide for only four guild rallies three of which are to be conducted at the University Main Sports Grounds and another at the College of Health Sciences in Mulago. While the Guild Constitution requires that the guild elections be held within the first 50 days of the second semester, the new regulations say that all rallies and debates must take place in ten- calendar days. 

According to the regulations, in order to ensure the dignity of the guild, those aspiring for election as guild president must be registered students of Makerere University.  It also states that the aspirant must be a fully subscribed member of the Students Guild, be in their second year of study or above, have no pending retake (on normal progress) and at least a CGPA of 2.8.

The student is also expected not to have exceeded the study period of their programme on account of academic related challenges including stay put, retakes, failure or refusal to register for the minimum number of course units.

The regulations further stipulate that all intending candidates shall be verified and issued certificate of eligibility to contest, a certificate for good academic standing endorsed by the Academic Registrar and clearance by the officer in charge of the University Police of any criminality and good conduct.

The new regulations follow incidents of hooliganism, which characterised the guild polls last year leading to running battles between students and police. The officers used teargas and live bullets to calm down the violent students. Studies have shown that Makerere university guild polls have had a string of violent incidents sometimes leading to death and vandalism.

In his 2011 study "The drama of Makerere university guild presidential politics," Bernard Sabiti, a former Makerere University student described the guild race as "a story of extortion, academic mediocrity and poor prospects for National Leadership". According to Sabiti, the absurd hall "culture" practice should have been banned for good, saying it promotes a terrible extortion practice that represents the worst of a sick society and it's "Something-for something" life. 

Each hall has certain norms and cultures, based on its history and other factors, and would subject candidates to these cultures during their campaigns. Halls also have "solidarities" where each Male student hall is "affiliated" to a female one, for "social purposes". Because there are more male halls than female ones, those left out opt for private female hostels outside campus for the same reason.  

However, the university administration has nothing to do with this arrangement.