Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party’s Paul Kato, a second year Bachelor of Arts in Education student, last Friday became the 83rd guild president of Makerere University after beating 14 others in the race. Mr Kato won with a total of 5,205 votes.
Mr Kato’s closest rival, Abdul Kareem Zilitwawula came second with 4,369 votes, followed by Democratic Party’s Mercy Faith Lakisa with 1,569 votes while National Resistance Movement (NRM) party’s Ruth Nsubuga got 110 votes.
Mr Kato said finding a lasting solution to the rampant strikes at the country’s oldest university, by ensuring direct engagement of students in decision making, is one of his immediate plans when he assumes office.
“I am planning an all-inclusive engagement dialogue between the university administration and the students. This business of the guild president representing the students in meetings has to stop,” the 27-year-old said.
Over the years, Makerere University has been embroiled in rampant lecturers’ and students’ strikes which have on several occasions led to its temporary closure and destruction of the property.
The most recent is November last year when the lecturers went on a sit down strike forcing students to follow suit leading to a three months closure of the institute after a presidential directive.
The desire to become a leader, the Geography and History major, said has been his inspiration since childhood in which he held different positions in his early years of school.
“I have always been a leader, all people in our family are leaders and even my parents are leaders,” he said.
Although Mr Isaac Otuuko, the Makerere university guild electoral commission chairman while declaring the election results observed that the elections were “free and fair,” the first runners-up, Mr Zilitwawula has since disputed the outcome, citing irregularities that marred the exercise.
“We have not yet accepted the results. First of all, the whole process was marred by so many irregularities such as the voters’ registers reaching late at the polling stations,” Mr Zilitwawula told Daily Monitor in a phone interview.
“We are yet to make a decision on the way forward,” Mr Zilitwawula said.
In his response, Mr Kato, disputed the former’s claims as “baseless and false” saying the elections were peaceful and free and fair.
“Unless he is looking for consolation, otherwise, he has no grounds to petition,” Mr Kato told Daily Monitor when contacted about the allegations.
Others in the race were: William Karamagi, Andrew Ssentale, Doreen Alituha, Kenneth Isabirye, Stephen Bukomeko, Ruth Nsubuga , Emmanuel Kizito, Timothy Sambwa, Lulican Agadi, Henry Kihika and James Kazungu.
Mr Kato hails from Ibanda District. He attended Fort Portal Senior Secondary School in Kabarole District for his O-level before joining Lubiri Secondary school in Kampala for A-level. At Lubiri, he served as a head boy and secretary general of the Uganda National Students Association 2013-2014.