Makerere University has revealed that graduands will receive gowns in shifts in what appears a deepening scandal for at the oldest tertiary institution in Uganda.
The campus has in recent years branded itself as a transformative institution, saying it was imparting skills to a new generation of people to provide local solutions to local challenges.
But the country would later be shocked by reports that the graduation gowns would be imported from China.
It also emerged that a few gowns had been imported, leaving majority of graduands stranded ahead of the 70th Graduation Ceremony slated to run from Tuesday, January 14-17, 2020.
Makerere said in a statement on Saturday night that it had “put in place emergency measures to ensure that gowns for all graduands are ready by the day they attend the ceremony,” adding, “By tomorrow Sunday 12th afternoon all graduands for 14th and 15th January should receive their gowns.”
However, said Makerere, “The rest of the graduands will collect their gowns according to a schedule to be issued by the Academic Registrar tomorrow.”
Graduands used to buy gowns from the open market only for Makerere administration to introduce a mandatory charge for the dresses.
Sources say when Makerere administration was exposed by Rwendeire report for creating dozens of banks accounts to steal public resources and creating ghost students, the gaps for “eating” were reduced.
Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) later took over the role of fees collections.
The only avenues left for “eating” were rented space, printing and sale of gowns.
Each student pays to URA Shs 98,000 for the graduation gown which costs Shs 58,000 on the open market.
The total amount from 14,000 graduands is Shs 1.3bn. Insiders suspect Makerere administrators pushed for an insider company to take the contract. The contractor was expected to spend about Shs 550m on supplying gowns to graduands hence saving a balance of more than Shs 400m.
In a statement, Makerere said the “Official Supplier of gowns for students graduating next week informed Management at the last minute that he was experiencing challenges supplying all graduation gowns on time. His actions are a breach of contract.”
The university did not indicate if any serious actions would be taken against the supplier but regretted the “inconvenience and anxiety created by the Contractor’s failure to honour the contract and assures all graduands that everything necessary is being done to ensure a smooth graduation ceremony.”