MARVIN TWIINAWE: Why other Universities should ‘pick a leaf’ from UCU when conducting elections

Marvin Twiinawe is a student of Journalism , media and communication at Uganda Christain University

Marvin Twiinawe is a student of Journalism , media and communication at Uganda Christian University (PHOTO/Courtesy)

Timothy Dumba an IT student was peacefully elected to become the 25th guild president of Uganda Christian University on Friday 18th November 2022 with a total number of 1515 votes which is an equivalent of 52.35% while his counterpart Jorem edonu from the Law School garnered 1325 votes which is an equivalent of 46.65% of the votes that were cast according to the institution’s Electoral commission.

The Nov 18th voting day was the major event of the electoral process that was rolled out on 12th Of October, 2022.

But in the eyes of some students, the 2022 elections were so boring compared to those organized in previous years yet very peaceful.

“……this has been the most boring elections organized at @UCUniversity however the election is among the rearest ….”. wrote a one Bill Dan ,a student of journalism and Communication via twitter .

“The election was boring, it was too calm”, said a one sharon , a student of LLB 3.

But though they were ” boring”, UCU had amazingly peaceful elections in University.
During the declaration of results,the returning officer Mrs .Mary Mugasira thanked the Deputy chief security officer for ensuring peace during the elections.

Mugasira also noted that it was her first time declaring results as early as 5pm in 14 years .”For the 14 years I have been at UCU, this is the first time I’m declaring results at 5 p.m.,” said Mugume,
A sign that everything moved on peacefully.

Incidents like tear gas , running battles with police, injuries and death as a result of election violence were unheard of and had a percentage of 0.00% to happen .

Situation in other universities

In most institutions in the country especially public universities, it’s become a trend that violence dominates headlines during elections.

On the night of July 14th this year, friends and family members of Michael Betungura Bewatte, a second year student of law at Uganda Christian University (UCU)Kampala Campus, were left in shock and sombre mood after the latter was killed during final political campaigns for Makerere University ‘guild polls.

The death of Betungura only highlights the growing trend of violence that has characterises University politics especially guild elections for the last several years.

Why other universities should pick a leaf from UCU

No affiliation to political parties .

At the launch of the electoral road map for UCU’ guild polls earlier on 12th October this year, the Dean Of students Affairs who also doubles as the returning officer Mrs Bridget Mugasira made it categorically clear that Uganda Christian University is non partisan and hence students ain’t allowed to front political parties during elections.” We are a non-partisan institution, so we don’t expect people to front political parties.
UCU We don’t have those parties ,the council actually passed that resolution. We are non-partisan. Mugasira said.

Most clashes during university politics are influenced by national political parties and hence contribute to the violence in elections.

According to Uganda police ,the violence during Mak’ final campaigns that claimed a life and left others injured was as a result of a clash between NUP and FDC supporters.
It’s therefore evident that political parties play a role in distablising peace during university elections and their absence at UCU has created a peaceful environment during elections.

its in away sensible to state the if there is no affiliation of political parties in Universities such as Makerere, Kyambogo,Gulu among others, there will be minimal or no chaos during moments such as elections

Use of online voting system (E-chagua)

Uganda Christian University is one of the few universities in Uganda that adopted the online voting system and it seems to work.The online system minimizes the likelihood of students crowding at polling centres and tallying centres which can arouse emotions especially among rival camps seeking to safeguard their votes as is the case in most universities

The death of Betungura Bewatte was an eye opener to Makerere University which suspended physical elections and has since organised online elections in a resolution that was made by the institution ‘ council as a measure of having a peaceful electoral process.

It’s therefore right to say that UCU’ s decision to conduct online elections minimizes chances of an occurrence of violence .

No student millitant Brigades.

Over the years ,initiations like Makerere have had student Brigades that play a huge role in stimulating violence, starting strikes and all sorts of violence.

The brigades include the Gongom Gun Brigade (GGB) of the Lumbox solidarity, combining Lumumba and Mary Stuart, the Northcote Revolutionary Army (NRA) for Nsibirwa Hall, Afrostone Gun Brigade (AGB) for Africa and Livingstone, the Rat Gun Brigade (RGB) for Mitchel that combines Mitchel and Complex halls, the MGB for University Hall and Garden Courts Hostel, a girl’s hostel in Makerere Kikoni.
These Brigades indoctrinate a culture of violence as a away of seeking to protect a particular interest and cause such as rallying behind candidates.

But at Uganda Christian University,the situation is completely different. There are no such brigades and millitant cultures .Halls of residence are simply resting places and no form of violence occurs. its arguably right to state that students are simply determined and focused non what takes them to the university.

This writer, Marvin Twiinawe is a student of Journalism , media and communication at Uganda Christian University

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