The officially released results show that Anna Adeke Ebaju won the Monday guild elections at Makerere. According to students’ electoral commission, Adeke polled 6609 (61%) and thereby defeating seven others in a hotly contested race which threatened to turn bloody in the last days. The results were declared on Monday night at about 10pm, sparking wild celebrations from FDC supporters who conducted jubilant processions at the campus throughout the night.
Trumpeting students blocked roads within and outside Makerere as they danced kadodi while chanting anti-NRM slogans. In the second position was NRM’s Boniface Okot who got 2718 votes. DP’s Martin Segawa came third with 1313 votes. UPC’s Kokas Okello got 15 votes and trailed behind independent Musa Byamaka who, despite being very eloquent, got 105 votes. A number of reasons explain Adeke’s landslide victory.
She had massive support amongst female students who were desperate to produce a guild president, having taken the last 8 years without any. The last they produced was Susan Abbo in 2007.
Earlier on there was Sarah Kagingo (1998) and Sam Njuba’s daughter Juliana Norah Njuba (1987). Female students have always coalesced around their own most especially where the candidate is articulate. Adeke possessed these qualities which made her easy brand to sell. Over 60% of her crowds were female students who stuck to her as one of their own.
Closely related to this was the fact that her supporters were civil, decent and exercised restraint even in the midst of provocation posed by the violence DP and NRM supporters occasioned onto them. Quite often the violent Lumumbists, backing both Segawa and Okot, physically attacked the Adeke camp including injuring the candidate herself at some point. She had to check in the hospital after being assaulted by DP and NRM supporters at Mitchell.
On Sunday at the freedom square, the last rally ended prematurely after NRM supporters attacked Adeke as she moved to begin her speech. Police responded with tear gas and the rally ended prematurely. This attracted sympathy for Adeke who was already doing well. Her supporters, who often formed more than 50% of the crowds at the joint rallies, always withdrew whenever rival camps confronted them with violence. At the Freedom Square on Sunday during the last rally, there was hardly any crowd for others to address when her supporters came under attack and withdrew to the fringes of the Square.
Being on FDC ticket also strengthened Adeke’s bid. The party, which was founded in 2005, has since 2007 produced two guild presidents for Makerere who performed well and left a good track record on which Adeke rode.
These are Gerald Karuhanga and Denis Onekalit. These two not only left office while still popular, they have also consistently remained in opposition unlike DP’s Robert Okware and Susan Abbo who have since joined NRM and work in State House for President Museveni.
The other DP guild presidents like Shaban Senkubuge and outgoing Ivan Kata tolerated scandals in the guild and left discredited which hurt the candidature of Segawa who would otherwise have been a good candidate. The FDC influential members also physically took part.
Secretary General Alice Alaso (for whose husband Adeke is the first born) was occasionally at Makerere rallies to monitor the candidate’s progress. She also catered for her logistical needs. FDC youth wingers Francis Mwijukye, Doreen Nyanjura, Onekalit and Moses Byamugisha were physically at every rally and also helped in the supervision of polling to ensure everything went well. They even set up a secretive tally center of their own at Africa Hall where Adeke is a prominent resident.
Although she won at the 26 polling stations, including Okot’s home ground of Technology Faculty, Adeke got mob votes from the Faculty of Law where she is the student with the best CGPA in her 3rd year class. She got 537 votes against Okot’s 70 there. Her promise to get court injunction and subsequently apply for judicial review against the new fees policy requiring students to pay 60% before 6th week also won many hearts for Adeke.
She eloquently made this point during TV live debates on Urban TV and at rallies and she sounded logically believable. She argued that since strikes hadn’t yielded, as Vice Chancellor Ddumba-Ssentamu appears determined to implement the new policy, going to court is the only viable option remaining for students. She consistently argued students can always negotiate and come out successful once their argument is strong, well packaged and persuasively presented. This, she argued, can replace strikes which give Makerere a bad image besides reducing the students’ competitiveness on the job market.
Additional reporting by John V Sserwaniko & Hope Muhairwe