By Howard Mwesigwa
(Legal Scholar, Youth Leader & Human Rights Activist)
The 86th Student Leadership at Makerere University, through its Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ministry has embarked on an initiative aimed at comprehensively reviewing its Guild Constitution. It ought to be reckoned that the impugned constitution was last amended in 2016. This move follows a series of events and developments in the student politics at the Hill that could not be remedied by the Guild Constitution, due to its apparent loopholes. Many of these lacunae had earlier been pointed out by the Guild Tribunal, then chaired by Mr. Gulam Hussein Dawood, in its
landmark decision in Mukisa Joshua William v Papa Were Salim & 7 Ors.
The 86th Guild Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Winston Churchill Ruhayana, in justifying the comprehensive review, through a guild memorandum last week, intimated that alive to the glaring loopholes, the amendment has been long overdue and concomitantly invited the entire student body to actively respond to the ongoing consultations, so as to contribute to the resuscitation of the spirit of constitutionalism and the rule of law at the Hill.
The key considerations in the amendment are firstly, the notion of Separation of Powers in the Guild government. This notion dictates that a fully-fledged government with a legislature, judiciary and executive ought to function with all the arms independent and yet complementary. With the Mak
Guild Constitution, the respective lines look blurred. This is manifest in the first place, by the presence of the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs (A member of the executive) as Secretary to the Guild Tribunal.
Secondly, the Members of the Guild Tribunal, which is the judicial arm of the Guild Government are appointed solely by the Justice Minister and they accordingly owe their allegiance to him and effectually, the Executive arm. Thirdly, the Guild Tribunal is facilitated by funds allotted for the Justice Ministry and this has over the years marred its independence and efficiency.
The second consideration is the proposal to make the election of the Guild President, Electoral College based. At present, the election of the Guild President is basically, by simple majority through a popular vote. However, complaints have arisen over the years, alleging that it is unfathomably easy for Candidates from profoundly populous Colleges to win by simply winning at their Colleges to the detriment of candidates from relatively less populous Colleges. It is further argued that the election of the Guild President should be more representative of all the constituent Colleges at the Hill. It is proposed that this will be achieved through even distribution of electoral points and adoption of an ‘all or nothing’ system.
The third consideration is the fair representation of genders. In light of representation in students’ leadership, girls only contribute 24-30% of the Guild leadership currently. This low representation of girls in student leadership has been attributed to the uneven and rather rough terrain of Makerere’s political landscape. As affirmative action, it is proposed that at college level, at least one of the two GRCs be mandatorily, female. It should be noted that Makerere last had a Female Guild President in 2013 and that was Hon. Anna Ebaju Adeke , the current Woman MP, Soroti District.
We’ll be following these developments and relaying them to you as and when they unfold…