Egerton Comrades Strike over Attempt to Defer 2000 Students

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Written By El Gwaro

Egerton comrades have said enough is enough to the unbearable terms that the administration has been shoving down their throats. Yesterday they took part in Kenya’s most exhilarating no holds barred sport, which involves a Comrade’s Power haka, pelting of stones on helpless buildings and sprinting when the boys in blue make an appearance. Also, not forgetting to take selfies and videos for fellow unemployed youths.

Coincidentally, this comes only two days after Maseno comrades ‘downed their tools’ and not more than a month after JKUAT, KU and two other universities demonstrated. Is there a ‘stike-ghost’ flying around the country making comrades feisty-horny?

Or do they have genuine grievances? Apparently, Egerton has been on a fees scavenging frenzy. The administration has imposed additional fees ‘from the Milky Way and fatal deadlines. Any student who fails to settle their arrears within the limited time will not seat for exams and thus forcefully defer an entire year.

Based on just this one condition, about two thousand students were bound to get locked out of the approaching exams. At this point, it’s quite appalling that an entire force of Ph.D. holding dons would expect a hundred, let alone a thousand degree-searching and feisty youths to calmly watch this happen.

Yet that wasn’t the only issue why the students woke up on Tuesday guns blazing. According to an official memo circulated by the spirited EUSU student leaders led by Chairperson Henry Mulyungi, the administration had utterly refused to address their grievances, which besides removal of the mandatory deferment based on finance registration included reopening of the student portal and deferment of exams card system.

EUSU memo

Let’s back up a bit. Just the other day, Egerton University made the headlines for having debts amounting to a freaking 5 billion. Within this amount, the taxman demands 856 million in tax arrears and a close confidant, Egerton University Sacco claims 431 million.

During the revelation of the financial crisis the institution is undergoing, the administration claimed the significant cutback in the financial support by the government as the root of their problems.

Evidently, the institution is cash strained and would, by all means, possible attempt to raise money. I guess that’s why it’s trying to grab the comrades by the balls; hiking fees and imposing deadlines for payment. But, those balls must be pretty hot. That why the senate held a crisis meeting and agreed to indefinitely close the institution.

Late last year Egerton Vice-Chancellor, Prof Rose Mwonya was suspended amid accusations of corruption somersaults in procurement, ghosts’ labor, and scholarships among others. Was this a witch-hunt or is her ‘earthquakeness’ for sure milking the institution off the very funds and resources needed to run it?

Even though she was reinstated, you can’t help but wonder. These terms which suppress the common Egerton comrade, are passed by her, while seated in her comfortable throne. Is this her desperate attempts to redirect the burden to the students rather than enforce accountability in the finance department?

Going back to my question, is there a ‘strike-ghost’ hovering around the country’s tertiary institutions? My guess is yes.

When the university amendment bill, which stripped the influence and power of university leaders, was brought into power, the state thought they had solved the students-strike predicament. They did not. Rather, comrades felt like it was an attempt to silence their voices. A feisty spirit thus arose and ever since the number of strikes has increased tremendously.

In this century where freedom is breaking news, daily news and advisory news, you can’t apply force or curtailment to quash the quests on people, especially young energetic people.

Give them what they want, a powerful channel through which their issues will be heard and solutions for them. Until then, Comrades Power will continue to resonate on the streets.

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