Can South Sudanese Students’ Union in Uganda Change its Face for the Betterment?

By Samuel Reech Mayen,

President of South Sudanese Students Union In Uganda ,Peter Nin Tut in the middle and Mr. Anthony on the right (Photo: Extracted/Nyamilepedia)

President of South Sudanese Students Union In Uganda ,Peter Nin Tut in the middle and Mr. Anthony on the right (Photo: Extracted/Nyamilepedia)

Oct 07, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — Looking at how the students’ politics have been ran in the last three years, it would be unfair to state that the previous systems did not work well. Hence, I leave that judgment to those who had closely monitored those systems. However, this article looks at the students’ expectations for the next leadership. Since South Sudanese students in Uganda are at the eve of their elections season, it is prudent to give some hints on how the new leadership should perform.

First, there are traits that need to be considered when electing new leaders for Students’ Union in Uganda. With over ten thousand South Sudanese students at the Universities, colleges and High schools in Uganda, it is vital that a leadership that really meets the expectations of these massive numbers is elected.

Meeting the expectations in this case doesn’t mean paying the students tuition but rather means supporting students morally so that they are in harmony with their various institutions and their immediate neighbours from this country. Most South Sudanese students in Uganda specifically in high schools find it hard to adapt to the systems and the environment. Therefore, these groups need advisory role from the South Sudanese students’ leadership to guide them from drifting off the road.

This responsibility needs someone who is very much connected with the communities and understands the people he leads. It was widely read in the media this year that a South Sudanese Student stabbed to death a Ugandan student. This put our relations at stake with the sisterly country of Uganda. Thus, it is a role of the South Sudanese students’ leadership to supplement the role of our embassy by being connected to different schools to know the unruly attitudes of our students for proactive action.

Secondly, a leader for South Sudanese Students Union should be someone who is civilized and well informed. He/she should be someone who makes good decision, free from tribal mindset and clean from corrupt practices in the previous associations. He should be a confident, a visionary and a courageous person. On top of all, he must be someone who expresses himself well in English.

At least one should meet a thresh hold of leader. It is a shame for the students to be led by someone whose English as the official language of the Union is shaking. If a guest of Honour is invited and a leader of the Union delivers an erroneous speech, or poorly pronounces words, the inerasable negative impression is planted. The national leaders who are the potential financial supporters of the Union are attracted and motivated by the quality of the students’ leaders elected.

Thirdly, the issue of corruption is one of the diseases that kills the reputations of the students’ leaders. Many students contest for leadership for two main reasons; recognition and accessing students’ funds for personal benefits. Multi thousands of US Dollars have been pocketed while there are students who are dropping out and should have been assisted with that money. It is unrealistic to say that all students do not have financial challenges but there should be clear strategies on how the most affected students should be assisted. As a leader with clear conscience, paying a semester for at least ten students in one year (These must not be one’s relatives or friends) cannot only build a trust but also a great unforgettable assistance of benefits. This credit is missed by putting that small money in one’s pocket where it ends up being consumed in an insignificant manner.

Fourthly, there is also this issue of students who want to remain in the Union as long as they are in Uganda. On this issue, the constitution is not accessible to the students and ones remain wondering on what the constitutional provision is. From a reasonable point of view, those who run the Union this year should not run it the following year. It is clear that a term in office is one year. This is to give chance to other students so that they can change the face or the manner of running the students’ office. Therefore, these self-appointed decision makers should not be allowed to drive the Union in the direction of their choice. Their interest is one, influencing new leaders to divert, divide and put the students’ funds into their pockets.

It is alleged that some of these students who have stuck in the union politics have already encouraged some new unrecognized institutions to subscribe so that they qualify to send delegates as soon as the Union is dissolved. These new delegates from unrecognized institutions are meant to vote for the candidates of the union stagnant politicians’ choices. These will keep these “unwilling-to go group” close to the union for the whole of next term. This is a filthy politics that corrupt the minds of the people that are expected to be leaders in the near future.

Fifthly, the other issue that also needs clarification is the subscription fee for the students in various Universities and colleges. What does the Union do with this money? Union is already being funded by the government, and many government officials do pledge at their own capacity to ensure that the activities of the Union are supported. Why should the Union leaders continue suckling the students that are not benefiting from their activities?

If it is about the registration for the sake of submitting the names to the Embassy, then that can be handled through a small subscription at the universities level. A subscription of 5 000 Ugandan Shillings is enough for both the Universities unions and the Mother Union till that particular student graduates. Students should only subscribe once, not every year. This constitutional provision on subscription is irrational.

The Students’ Union should not apply the perception that a Lak Nuer legendary Kulang Tot described the government as Nei ti pɛlpɛl ti cham ke nyiin naath (canny people who consume public assets).

The continuation of the existence of Students Union in Uganda should be determined by the quality of leadership that meets the expectations of the Students. At a time of national economic crisis like now, the students do not expect much from the Union but commitment, transparency and accountability to be the guiding principles. Therefore, it is anticipated that the next leadership should be committed to review the policies of the Union and renew the reputation as a precedent for the subsequent leaderships.

Finally, the most recent leaders and the current leadership should be applauded for their role in maintaining the Union. Mr. Magok Chuol must be appreciated for lobbying for funds that later sustained the Union at a time when the national crisis could not allow much support from the nation. Mr. Niin Tut must be appreciated for helping a number of students with the Union money. Lastly, Mr. Makuei Aguer, the outgoing leader deserves appreciation for showing amazing qualities of a leader by always attending functions on invitations and clarifying issues related with the Union.

The author is a student in Kampala and can be reached at: mayenreech@gmail.com or    +256 772 727 857.

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