Constitutional court judges Frederick Egonda Ntende, Kenneth Kakuru and Elizabeth Musoke last Thursday annulled all interim orders previously handed down by deputy Chief Justice and Head of the court, Steven Kavuma.
As DERRICK KIYONGA reports, many legal minds feel the ruling was meant to loosen Justice Kavuma's tight and increasingly unilateral grip on the court.
Since Justice Kavuma took over leadership of the Court of Appeal / Constitutional court, in 2013, he has unliterary issued many controversial interim orders arising from constitutional petitions. This, according to people familiar with the court, soiled the court’s image and angered many of its judges.
Justice Ntende, who led the panel that annulled the interim orders, has previously criticised the way cases are allocated and determined at the court. For instance, during the 2016 annual judges’ conference at Imperial Resort Munyonyo, Justice Ntende said much as he was a Constitutional court insider, he didn’t know the criteria used at the court to decide which case is heard first. Though Justice Kavuma was listening, he said nothing.
Even during a November 2016 meeting of High court judges organized ostensibly to strategize on how to eliminate the huge case backlog, Justice Ntende described the Constitutional court interim orders, mostly by Justice Kavuma, as “idiotic.”
Justice Frederick Egonda Ntende
Justice Ntende’s rebuke was in response to complaints from High court judges who said the controversial Constitutional court interim orders were contributing to the huge case backlog in their courts.
Interviewed at the weekend, Peter Walubiri, a constitutional law expert, said last Thursday’s ruling by the three justices was meant to get back at their boss, Justice Kavuma.
“I know the judges are trying to redeem the image of that court which has been battered as a result of Justice Kavuma’s orders,” Walubiri said, adding: “The ruling, when read carefully, shows the symptoms of discord between Justice Kavuma and other judges. There is no harmony at that court and probably the judges used the ruling to send a message.”
Human rights lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi said on Friday that lawyers normally respect judges regardless of how they rule.
“But the problem with Kavuma, nobody respects him even if he genuinely rules in your favour,” he said.
According to judicial officials who declined to be named, the disharmony at the Constitutional court became louder last year, when Justice Kavuma decided to hang on to all parliamentary election appeals, ostensibly to go through them – causing significant delays. That, according to some officials, is the reason so few judgments have been delivered, so far.
“The judges were angry and some decided to abandon work altogether,” a source told The Observer.
Chief Justice Bart Katureebe reportedly had to intervene. Sources said, Justice Katureebe hurriedly went to the Constitutional court at Nakasero and personally supervised the constitution of the three-judge panels that would hear the election petition appeals.
Interviewed on Friday, Justice Kakuru, part of the panel against interim orders, said more needed to be done: “There can be challenges like any other institution, which I think we shall manage like you people in the media manage your news,” Kakuru said.
But in a recent interview with The Observer, Justice Remmy Kasule said work at the court demands a lot of teamwork. Asked whether they work as a team at the Constitutional court, Kasule said: “Of course it’s not good when one person is determining who is hearing cases but we are dealing with it through a committee which is looking at the rules.”
Contacted by telephone at the weekend, Kavuma declined an interview, curtly saying: “no comment”.
For his part, retired Supreme court judge George Wilson Kanyeihamba said the ruling was only possible because of the independence of “serious judges” like Ntende and Kakuru.
In their unanimous ruling, which also affects all interim orders that are still being enforced, the three judges declared that all the interim orders were issued by the court contrary to provisions of Article 137 (2) of the Constitution. The article requires that applications for interim orders in the Constitutional court be heard and decided by a full coram (panel) of five judges, not one judge as has been the practice.
“All interim orders issued by a single justice of the Constitutional court which are still in force are null and void and of no effect,” Justice Kakuru said.
“Any interim or substantive orders of the injunction issued by a coram of three justices of the Constitutional court which are still in force are null and void and of no effect,” he added.
Although the ruling has been widely celebrated, some lawyers say it is flawed and could be overturned if the the attorney general and the inspector general of government (IGG) appeal.
“In the first place, an order in one court cannot be used to affect cases in a different court which are of different facts and circumstances. That ruling will be challenged,” said Joseph Matsiko, the managing partner of Kampala Associated Advocates.
Elison Karuhanga of Karuhanga and Kasajja advocates, said: “The judges were wrong because their ruling affects other parties who never appeared before them. This violates a right to fair hearing.”
Walubiri said it would be very hard currently for a lawyer to get a panel of five judges of the Constitutional court, more so, when he needs interim reliefs, which according to him, means that people’s rights will be violated.
“That court should up its game if we are to go by this ruling because now five judges must be available even in interlocutory [provisional] applications,” Walubiri offered. “But the spirit of the ruling is the evidence of a sick court and the sick society in which it operates.”
Rwakafuuzi also described the ruling as “erroneous” in the sense that court was not fully constituted: “These judges are saying the panel should always be of five in all constitutional matters which is fine; but the problem is that they themselves were only three. So, they are also making the ruling illegally.”
The people who lodged the application that resulted in Thursday’s ruling, include Shafik Mourisho, Godfrey Kironde, Abedi Sowale, Sam Male, Edward Nnune and Moses Kalangwa Kalisa. In their main petition, they challenged their prosecution by the IGG as unconstitutional.
The Democratic Party (DP) has issued guidelines, which bar regional leaders from interfering with the party’s national issues.
The guidelines were issued on February 21, after a meeting of party leaders chaired by Norbert Mao, the party’s president general. According to the new guidelines, “every regional vice president should now mobilize regional representatives to plan for their regions.”
Under the same guidelines, each region shall hold delegates’ conferences, which will elect people to work with regional vice presidents. Regional vice presidents, according to the guidelines, are expected to be innovative.
“If there are genuine national concerns, the regions should pass them to the relevant party organs,” reads part of the guidelines.
Explaining the rationale of the guidelines, sources in DP who attended the meeting claimed one senior party leader said the guidelines would help “curtail leaders with misguided negative energy who continually criticize the party’s national leadership.”
“Their focus should now be regional,” the leader reportedly said.
DP president Nobert Mao
The sources said the guidelines are intended to clip the wings of an increasingly outspoken Betty Nambooze, the regional president for Buganda. Ever since the party’s former national chairman, Muhammad Kezaala, accepted an ambassadorial appointment from President Museveni, Nambooze has been critical of the inner workings of DP.
In an interview with The Observer published last week, Nambooze accused the party leadership, including Mao, of working closely with the NRM to weaken DP.
She said: “Mao knows he became DP president general through a coup that was facilitated by foreign forces. For me I gave him all my support hoping that he would repent and allow the party to go through a process that would produce legitimate and legally elected leaders. When I see him on NBS TV’s frontline talking about [President] Museveni’s problems, I say maybe this man knows what he is talking about. I don’t know where he gets that temptation to do wrong things yet when you talk to him you hear a democrat talking.”
Speaking to us on Saturday, Nambooze said limiting her activities to Buganda was a blessing in disguise because she is going to make the party structures in her region vibrant.
“I am not bothered at all. I am not a dictator to pride in working alone but no one will stop me from pushing for reforms in my party and no one has the mandate to stop a regional president from visiting other parts of Uganda,” she said.
She said she loves it when “democrats” hurriedly come up with guidelines just to silence one individual.
Mao told The Observer on Saturday that the claim by some leaders like Nambooze that the party is out to curtail them is nonsensical. He said that if Nambooze has issues with the way the party is being managed, she should complain to NEC, not to The Observer.
“I was a regional president and they are members of NEC. In that capacity that is how they make their input. The purpose of creating a national regional president was to make coordination easier so that you have a strong voice in NEC which brings on board the input from the regions. They are like tributaries of the same river. They don’t flow out of the river, they flow into the river,” Mao said.
He said what his leadership discussed was a code of conduct for its leaders. Mao also said Nambooze’s criticism of him in The Observer interview reminded him of the cold war days when all countries that were not superpowers had to align themselves with either USA or Soviet Union.
In this regard, he said, there is a tendency for some leaders in DP to think that one must either be in bed with Museveni or Dr Kizza Besigye, the former FDC president.
“This can only come from people who are not sure of themselves. For me, I have always been sure of myself. I have no obligation to explain to anyone. I think the interests that I embody are to rebuild the party and put it in a position to be the main challenger of Museveni so that we get political power whether I will ultimately be the one to be president or not,” he said.
Using the analogy of hunting, Mao said any hunter who sets out to kill a buffalo must not be distracted by smaller animals such as rabbits.
“I think that is what many leaders have specialized in: chasing rabbits along the way. Leaders of high caliber should not lose sight of the bigger picture,” Mao said.
After nearly 12 years and four terms in office as inspector general of police, Gen Kale Kayihura has applied for a fifth term of office, The Observer has learnt. Kayihura’s fourth term expires on November 1.
If the Police Authority accepts his application, he will carry on as IGP until 2019, breaking his own record as the country’s longest-serving police boss. Kayihura joined the police force in 2005, replacing Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, who served one term.
Police insiders told The Observer that Kayihura applied for a fifth term a few weeks ago.
“The IGP has just applied to the Police Authority seeking a fifth term. It is not even a month ago,” said one police officer who requested anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.
Interviewed on Saturday, Gen Jeje Odongo, the minister for Internal Affairs and head of the Police Authority, neither confirmed nor denied receiving Kayihura’s application. He referred us to his deputy Mario Obiga Kania for an official comment.
“I’m out [of office] for leave; so, ask the state minister for internal affairs for his comment,” Odongo said.
Kania told us he hadn’t seen Kayihura’s application. Kayihura couldn’t be reached by telephone for a comment at the weekend. Police Spokesman Andrew Felix Kaweesi couldn’t be reached either. By the weekend he was still in Kigali, Rwanda, for a regional police meeting.
The Observer recently reported that Okoth Ochola, the deputy inspector general of police, who was reportedly scheduled to retire soon, had applied for a third term in office. Ochola told us if his request was accepted, he hoped to serve for another three years.
Should the Police Authority accept to renew Kayihura and Ochola’s contracts, their names will be forwarded to President Museveni who will take a final decision.
Kayihura reign as IGP has received mixed reviews. Many in the establishment believe he has built the force into a more formidable and reliable machine. He has also attracted more funding to the force.
Yet others accuse him of militarising the force and of turning it into a partisan organ of the ruling party. In interviews with The Observer, some police officers were not happy that Kayihura was planning to stick around.
One of them said: “It will be a violation of the Constitution if the Police Authority gives Kayihura a fifth term in office.”
However, the Constitution does not limit the number of terms an IGP should serve.
Last week, Parliament declined a request from the Forum for Democratic Change, FDC, to withdraw Ingrid Kamateneti Turinawe, as its second candidate in Tuesday’s election for Uganda’s representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala).
That request has since stirred an internal dispute within FDC pitting Turinawe against Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, the party president, who wrote to Parliament last week recalling the candidature of his secretary for mobilisation.
While some FDC leaders say the Turinawe recall was agreed by the party’s management committee, the secretary general, Nathan Nandala-Mafabi and Turinawe contradict that narrative.
In a Friday interview with Sadab Kitatta Kaaya at her Parliamentary office, WINFRED KIIZA, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament and chairperson of the FDC Women’s league, accused Nandala and Turinawe of dishonesty. Below are excerpts.
Why is the party withdrawing Ingrid Turinawe’s candidature?
In the first place, the party voted knowing that [it] will send one person [for the Eala election]. Everybody knew we were going to receive guidelines on how many [candidates] each party is entitled to. You will realise that NRM voted and said “we are bringing six [candidates].” To them, they knew that according to numerical strength, they were entitled to six.
So, when we compared the numerical strength, we saw that FDC was entitled to one [candidate]. So, when the party was voting, we knew we were sending one, but we kept asking for guidelines; we were always told there will be no guidelines just vote according to the treaty [Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community] .
Because the treaty is silent on the number each party is supposed to [present], we said fine, since there is no limit on how many [candidates] each party must present, let us present two.
It was [therefore] not by error that FDC presented two candidates, it was a decision made by the management committee, the top organ of the party. It was eventually adopted by the National Executive Committee (NEC).
Later during discussions [within FDC], we realised it may not be possible for FDC to have two candidates. As a party, we again sat and said; “What do we do amidst the circumstances?” An agreement was reached in the management committee that one candidate be withdrawn.
That is the decision the party president [Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu] communicated to parliament. I’m sure the secretary general of the party should have communicated but he was out of the country, and the deputy secretary general [Harold Kaija] was also away; the party president communicated. To us, the party president is bigger than the secretary general; so, we thought the decision of the party president would be binding.
However, when Parliament received the letter, they read the rules [of Procedure of Parliament]. What we had not taken care of as a party was rule 7 (2) Appendix B of the Rules of Procedure regarding Eala elections.
All I can remember is that, that Rule was changed in the 9th Parliament. At the beginning, there was no provision [that said] “it must be the secretary general to sign [the withdrawal letter],” the party leadership was authorised to sign [then].
There was controversy over the election of Eala members [in 2012] most especially in UPC. You will recall that FDC lost out because it was still negotiating with the then prime minister Amama Mbabazi and then government chief whip [John Nasasira] regarding the participation of other political parties in the constitution of the delegation to represent Uganda to Eala.
During the negotiations, at that time, we had in the Rules of Procedure, an article talking about the numerical strength of the political parties and accordingly, during that time, FDC was entitled to two representatives because of its numerical strength and NRM was entitled to six representatives and one slot was left for the independents.
However, we [FDC] argued that since the treaty talks about all shades of opinion, the Leader of Opposition then, Hon Nandala-Mafabi, argued that it would be proper for all shades of opinion in Parliament to be represented.
During negotiations, [Mbabazi] bypassed Nandala and his team –good enough I was part of that team, [he] went and negotiated with UPC and DP; that is how [Chris] Opoka and [Fred Mukasa] Mbidde got elected before FDC could present its candidates.
Because [the then UPC president Olara] Otunnu knew we were negotiating with other political parties; UPC, DP, JEEMA and CP; he wrote a letter to Parliament denouncing Opoka’s candidature.
Hon Jacinto Ogwal, who was at the time the UPC secretary general, had written endorsing Opoka’s candidature. Parliament then amended the rules to say the only recognised letter withdrawing a candidate would be that of a secretary general.
This was done to protect Opoka. You will remember that during the same period, that is how the issue of numerical strength was also removed from the Rules of Procedure so that FDC could not claim entitlement to representation because of its numerical strength.
These amendments were made amidst tension but because of the numbers of NRM [in the House], they were carried, and because they were discussed when we were not there, we could not have known.
So, after [Muntu] had written, he was reminded that this amendment was made, and he said, “Okay, I am glad that I have been informed, I’m sorry,” and you know it takes courage for a leader to say, “I’m sorry, but meanwhile the position remains, we are going to ensure that we follow the right procedure.”
So, to me I see no contradiction; it is only that the right process was not taken.
But your secretary general has told sections of the media that he doesn’t know of any meeting where such a decision [withdrawing Turinawe] was taken.
No, the secretary general is aware. If he says he doesn’t know of any meeting, I hold my breath; but he is aware of the meetings held by the party in regard to that matter.
Was he part of the meetings?
That is for him [to answer], but I am telling you, he is aware. He would only be a little bit... (laughter)...dishonest.
Tuesday February 28 is election day and this matter is yet to be resolved...
Well, no problem, the party has sent signals. We only pray the election is free and fair, and that members vote in a free atmosphere. The message [withdrawal of Turinawe] was not intended to really gang up against any party member; it was made in good faith. You know even the sister political parties were saying that you FDC, you say we sit [and agree but you have two candidates]...because I was trying to make sure that opposition parties reach a common understanding.
I said, let’s sit so that we can harmonise, [because] this [Eala] is a body that represents us as Ugandans. It is not essentially that they are going to represent the views of their political parties. But if we can agree among ourselves and look for those people that we think can take Uganda’s voice to Eala, it would be a good thing for us to do.
Well, we were still talking with other parties in the opposition [and] they were saying; “look here, FDC, you are being dishonest, how do you say we talk when you have two candidates in the race?”
We said well, we can withdraw one so that we begin talking. We were in that process, because whenever we would talk to the NRMs, they would say, “but you know that according to the numerical strength, you are entitled to one; how come you have fielded two?”
And for us as a party, we believe in negotiations and if negotiations are to be held, there must be transparency. To show that we believed in these negotiations, and we wanted to carry them forward, we made the decision of withdrawing one candidate so that we negotiate on equal terms with others.
We were just trying to be transparent, we were trying to be honest and true to ourselves. There was nothing to suggest that possibly, we were ganging up against anybody, and I would feel a little bit uncomfortable if my secretary general says that he was not aware of any discussions in regard to the issue.
Don’t the denials by Nandala-Mafabi and your statements point to a non-cohesive party leadership?
I would not want to comment on that because [the denials] are his statements. But as far as I know, I sit in the management committee of our party, and those decisions were arrived at in the management committee where the secretary general is a member.
If I don’t attend a management meeting, once it decides on a matter, collectively, I am bound by the decision of those who attended. You can’t say that I did not take part and therefore I don’t agree with them when majority of those who sat in the meeting agreed on a matter. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be any reason why they say there should be quorum. People would just decide to keep excusing themselves so that they are not party to institutional matters.
The only thing possibly the secretary general can say is, the FDC never sat. What is true is that the party sat and agreed on that position. It is the position of the party, it is not a Muntu affair, nor anybody’s affair.
For purposes of clarity, what is the composition of the management committee?
It is constituted by the party president and his deputies, the [National] party chairman and the vice chairpersons, the secretary general and his deputies, the secretary for mobilisation, the spokesperson, the chairpersons of the women league and youth league, etc.
When the secretary general says that “I am not aware”, maybe it could be true that the person of Nandala-Mafabi was not aware but the office of the secretary general is aware because he is the custodian of all decisions of the party. It would be unfair for the secretary general to come up and say, “I am not aware of that decision” when the party has made a decision.
Given the composition of the management committee, it means that Ingrid Turinawe is also a member.
Was she part of the meetings?
But she is not aware!
That is why I am saying; it is dishonesty on the part of some members. Even when I don’t attend, before I come up to say I was not aware, I should first of all go and look at what was discussed in the meeting being referred to. That matter was not discussed once; actually the meeting that decided on empowering [Muntu] to write [to the Clerk of Parliament] was, I think, the second meeting where that matter was discussed.
In the first meeting where we discussed this matter, the secretary general was available, Ingrid Turinawe was available. In the second meeting where it was discussed again, Ingrid Turinawe was available; it was only Nandala-Mafabi who was absent.
But Nandala, the person, being the custodian of all that we discuss, it would be unfair for [him] to come up and say he doesn’t know these things because I am sure, he knows. It would only be fair enough for him to say; “Yes, the matter was discussed and possibly the letters were written but Parliament has found the process was wrong.”
Unless people really want to keep the FDC party in newspapers and tearing it apart, which we don’t want.
So, what is the way forward as we go into elections on Tuesday?
We are going to vote; there will be an election, we will not stop the elections. If by that time a letter will have come from the party, the electoral commission will talk about it because even at the last minute, a candidate can be withdrawn.
Where does this confusion leave the party?
I am not looking at any confusion, it is individuals who are confused and possibly if their intention is to cost the party, then I will say they’re interested in that.
The only thing I see is that people are failing to understand a process; it is not confusion in any way. You still remember that when I was appointed Leader of the Opposition, the secretary general of the party wrote and said, “We are forwarding to Parliament the leader of the minority.” Parliament wrote back and said, “We don’t have a leader of the minority in as far as our laws are concerned.”
The party president wrote and said, “in fact we are forwarding to you the Leader of Opposition in Parliament.” Didn’t it work? It did not cause any chaos, FDC remained FDC. So, there is no confusion here. People are simply failing to understand that possibly, it was non-adherence to the provisions of the Rules of Procedure that is causing what people are looking at as confusion. That is why I am uncomfortable with a leader saying that he doesn’t know what we all knew.
The state minister for youth and children affairs, Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, has stepped up mobilisation activities in Bukomansimbi district, sparking suspicion she may gun for the Woman MP seat in 2021.
Most anxious is incumbent Woman MP Veronica Nanyondo, especially after Nakiwala separately hosted three ministers to launch farmers cooperative groups at the sub-county level. The ministers were Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja (agriculture, animal industry and fisheries), Godfrey Kiwanda Ssuubi (state for tourism) and Fredrick Gume Ngobi (state for cooperatives).
What is worrying to Nanyondo even more is Nakiwala’s involvement of other MPs hailing from the district, while excluding her in all these activities. Nakiwala is wife to Bukomansimbi South MP Deogratius Kiyingi who is also the DP party chairman in the district.
She was the DP flag bearer for Kampala Woman MP in last year’s elections but lost to FDC’s Nabillah Naggayi Sempala, before Museveni appointed her minister. On March 14, Nakiwala is set to hold a thanksgiving fete at Maleku, to which she has invited Museveni as chief guest.
Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi (2ndR) in a garden in Bukomansimbi with agriculture minister Vincent Ssempijja (L)
Wary of her activities, Nanyondo, a sister to the late Susan Namaganda, the former district Woman MP, has been carefully approaching people known to be close to the Kiyingis for information on the youthful minister’s intentions.
While Nakiwala denies harbouring any ambitions to represent Bukomansimbi, Nanyondo believes there is more than meets the eye in her (Nakiwala) activities. For instance, Nakiwala has constituted mobilisation groups across the district, enlisting known opposition mobilisers, some of whom were instrumental in Nanyondo’s campaign.
She has also organized a weeklong exhibition ahead of her thanksgiving party, leaving Nanyondo wondering what is in Bukomansimbi to exhibit.
“She is targeting me; we are always complaining about ministers being absent in Parliament. She is one of them because she is dedicating most of her time to her mobilisation activities in Bukomansimbi,” Nanyondo told The Observer on Friday. “She is not a born of Bukomansimbi; she is only married there; I don’t see where she picks the interest.”
Interviewed, Nakiwala said her interest is in empowering the district to break the chains of poverty.
“Being married there means that I am part and parcel of the district because even if anything happened and I died, I would be buried in Bukomansimbi,” Nakiwala said. “I have a duty to help the people out of poverty, I will be judged harshly as a minister and a wife to an MP from the district if I don’t use my position to help the people of Bukomansimbi to access markets.”
Nakiwala says each of the groups is going to be helped to access funds for development.
“We already have an example in Kibinge Coffee Farmers Cooperative Society which is earning more than Shs 2bn annually from coffee exports. It is that model that I want to replicate in other sub-counties,” Nakiwala said.
Kibinge Coffee Farmers Cooperative Society has a trade agreement with coffee dealers based in the Netherlands that buy nearly 90 tonnes of processed coffee every month.
Kibinge LC III chairman Sowedi Sserwadda, who is part of Nakiwala’s mobilisation teams, told The Observer on Friday the suggestion that the minister is scheming for the 2021 election is far-fetched.
“The mobilisation we are doing has nothing to do with 2020; we are organising farmers ahead of the president’s visit because there’s a possibility of him visiting some of them,” Sserwadda said.
Nakiwala, however, admitted that in some of the villages she has visited, there are voices urging her to stand in the next elections.
“But this is something that I have not paid attention to because my focus now is on how to help the people access government support out of poverty; 2021 is too far,” Nakiwala said.
DP OR NRM?
Since her appointment to cabinet, Nakiwala has not denounced her membership to DP. In fact, her cabinet colleagues still consider her a member of Uganda’s oldest political party as is the case with ministers who were picked from the opposition.
This came to light on February 7 during the NRM caucus meeting at State House Entebbe when Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa explained to NRM MPs that ministers Nakiwala, Betty Amongi (Lands) and Beti Kamya (Kampala) cannot be co-opted into the caucus because they still belong to opposition parties.
But this is an argument the DP membership in Bukomansimbi may not buy into should Nakiwala eventually decide to run for Bukomansimbi Woman MP.
Some think she will stand as an independent candidate because NRM may not accept her so easily as was the case with former minister for economic monitoring Maurice Peter Kagimu Kiwanuka who crossed to NRM in the run-up to the 2011 elections – which he lost.
ROBERT CENTENARY is the Kasese municipality MP. He has been in the news over his recent involvement in trying to broker peaceful negotiations between government and the Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu following clashes in Kasese. He shared his life story with Simon Kasyate, the host of Capital FM’s Desert Island Discs programme.
Good evening and welcome to the programme!
Good evening, my brother Simon!
How did you come to be named Centenary?
I was born on February 11, 1979, just the day my church, the Catholic Church, was celebrating 100 of existence in Uganda. So, my parents found it courteous to commemorate that day by giving me that name. But otherwise, in the chronology of birth, I am Bwambale (the secondborn child of my parents).
Do you normally use that name?
Yes. I feel very proud when you call me Bwambale. I am a son to the late 2nd Lieutenant Kule Franco and Evernes Muhindo. Both of them are Bakonzo. My mother was a Muhira and my father was a Musu Mukunda.
How many children were you at home?
We are three. I have an elder brother and I have a young brother.
Just three! Did your father go to battle and never returned?
Yes. My father went off to battle and died. He was a pay-master in Mubende military barracks and he died in Kakabara in the battlefield in 1984. He was a UNLA soldier (Obote’s army). He joined that army on secondment of the king, Charles Wesley Mumbere.
When the king descended from the mountains after ceasing fire, he requested that government should recruit some of his people because we wanted to have Bakonzo officers in the army and my father happened to have been one of the five that were seconded to go for military training at Munduli in Tanzania. He came out a cadet… and he would have been a general by now if he hadn’t passed on.
Do you remember anything about him?
Yes. He was a very kind and brilliant man. Actually he was a star performer. He was the second best candidate at S4 during their time [in] the East African Certificate of Education.
What then prompted him to go up the mountains and start fighting?
He was not in the mountains. He was a trade development officer at the time he joined the military…he wanted to become an army officer. I think it was his ambition. I also admire the military but I don’t want to be in the current army; I want to be in the military that is more professional.
Let’s look at your life as a child: where exactly where you born and how was your childhood like?
By the time I was born, my parents were living in Kampala. I was born in Mulago hospital but during that time there was transition of power between Idi Amin and Milton Obote. So, my mother had to skip through corpses to evacuate me and herself to go back to Kasese and settle there.
So, at that time we lived in Kasese and my father joined the army. He went for training in Tanzania and when he returned, he was deployed in Mubende but he never served for a long time. By the time he died, I was in nursery school. My recollection is that he was a loving father and every time he came from his place of work, I remember we used to visit the palace with him. We enjoyed meals with the king, it is one thing I recollect about my father.
What about your mother?
She was such a loving, humble and honest woman. But very tough. She was really a disciplinarian.
Is she also dead?
Yes. She died in 2011 on August 11. It was one of the most devastating moments of my life. But I still remain proud of my parents. Having lost my father at a tender age, we suffered through with my mother.
What was she doing?
She was a housewife. She struggled to raise money here and there to take us through school. Well, she comes from quite a wealthy family; so, we got a lot of support from them. My grandfather, Mzee Yofesi Masereka, we call him Rich Man in Kasese, he was very supportive to us.
He saw us through school up to university. My grandfather had a very good relationship with Mzee Mukwano and he paid fees for my tuition at Makerere University.
Plays We Are The Chosen Generation by Sinachi
Which schools did you go to?
I went to Kasese primary school and completed PLE in 1991. I got a first grade.
Did you usually have to do household chores as a child?
Having grown up with my mother, I learnt how to cook, how to do all the household chores.
What can you cook?
I know how to mingle obundu, I know how to prepare fish; I am really a good cook. My wife would attest to this.
So, you can as well clean the house and go to the garden?
Well, the bit of growing crops, having been brought up in town, I was not brought up in a farmer environment but I love farming. But one thing I know I can do which I learnt from my mother is gardening. I designed my compound at my house, I do the landscaping, I really love nature.
I do the beautification of my home. I don’t need to hire a landscaper or a gardener to come and do that. I do it as a hobby. I water my plants and sometimes I even wash my car.
As an MP?
I used to do that before I became an MP.
What were you doing actually before becoming MP?
I worked with a microfinance institution which was faith-based at the diocese of Kasese… I have worked in Kasese all the time. After that, I joined the Ecumenical Church Loan Fund. I was responsible for the western region but still I was based in Fort Portal, which was close to home. After that, I had some break and moved to Arusha in Tanzania to work with a friend as a tourism consultant.
I am quite a daring person. I don’t restrict myself to my profession, because I am a social scientist, I did social sciences at Makerere, but I did venture into the tourism business… I had actually never even been to Queen Elizabeth national park but every time I looked at the fleet of vehicles going to Ngorongoro, Serengeti, I got inspired. I decided to tickle my mind.
The game-changer was when I read a book called You are the boss: getting rich by working for yourself. I was motivated by this book to leave Arusha and go back home. Because I asked myself, we have the game parks, the crater lakes, the mountains, why would I be in a foreign country when we have the same resources back home? When I came home, I got the opportunity to work with Care International in Uganda as an economic rights adviser.
So, this diverted me a little bit but I was able to get capital to start a personal business. I started my tour company called Rwefuma Safari Services. Rwefuma was my paternal grandfather. I bought my first car from my savings working at Care and my first client was an intern student from Denmark who had come to work at Care International.
How would someone have described the young Centenary?
I was a very naughty boy at primary school. I actually almost missed sitting for my PLE but my head teacher was very passionate about education. She really loved me and she kept telling my mother to keep me there. She personally took charge of me reporting to class, because I used to miss classes.
What were you doing?
Just loitering around town. I was so playful. We used to escape to go to River Nyamwamba to swim. But I never smoked or took drugs. If I really drank any alcohol, I took it at home, not outside… I can have a beer or two once in a while but I am not a drinker. I can go to a club with colleagues but it is not like the usual lifestyle.
Plays Zimbabwe by Bob Marley
When we go back to school, when you finished high school, were you still stubborn or you had realized the education is important?
My mother always told me that if you want to eat buttered bread, it must come from your sweat and you must always be a hardworking and honest person. This has been my inspiration. I used to envy the lifestyle of the affluent people who were living in my neighbourhood. These were mainly Arabs.
I always knew that I didn’t have to steal, I had to work very hard. And I also believed that it doesn’t matter where you go to school to; you can always make it anywhere. Personally, I schooled from Kasese entirely, I finished O-level at Rwenzori High School and A-level at Saad SS. These are not first world schools. We were hustling in school. I realized that the more difficult life is, the wiser you become. Going through those schools was like a furnace.
I came out well-baked to be a risk-taker. I am very daring and very empowered. I do not like somebody putting me under their armpit. I am open-minded, I will tell you off, it doesn’t matter how you feel about it. I don’t like being subdued because you are probably going to give me something or do me a favour. I really like doing things the way my conscience tells me.
Are these the virtues you are passing onto your children?
Yeah, because they have kept me going. You know I have believed in one saying from Sir Winston Churchill that always be sure to put your feet in one place and stand firm.
You mean you don’t regret some of your actions?
Personally, I took a decision never to regret the actions I have taken especially when I am not in a drunk state. I may apologise for a mistake and go back on the drawing board but I will not go into self-pity because it is the worst situation you can ever put yourself into.
As you were aspiring to go to university, did you have a profession in mind that you wanted to pursue?
I really wanted to be a lawyer but my resources did not permit me but I don’t regret having gone for the social sciences course because as you may realize, I never ever practiced social science to the fullest. My first job, I was a credit supervisor…
Plays Get Up, Stand Up by Bob Marley
At university, I suspect you begin to appreciate social life a little more.
Well, I used to go to club but I didn’t allow myself to be diverted.
Why go to club then?
I really love music. Music is my passion. I love oldies. I grew up in town and we used to have these recording studios, there was a gentleman called Melodika, he would play this South African music and those oldies. Then we had a cinema at Saad hotel. There used to be a cinema there and another one was Kasese Inn. And this is where the notoriety used to come from.
I would sneak from home before they would show a movie, there was that free time, what they used to call jaribu, where they show the music and when the real movie is about to start, they come and start collecting the money. Sometimes if you did not negotiate your way to stay inside, they would flush you out.
At university, that is where most people meet their future wives…
Actually I met my wife at the workplace when I was working with Care International, way after university and working for four years. Actually, she was not working there. She had come to visit an aunt and right away when I saw her, I said God I think this is my wife. I don’t think it is something I thought over and over again, it was spontaneous.
Was the feeling mutual?
At that time, she didn’t know what I really wanted but I pursued. And now I have myself a very beautiful wife, very caring, very loving. I am very proud of her. I am glad that I married before my mother passed on. I pray that God keeps us moving until... Being a liberal person, I am Catholic and she is Anglican.
So, we did a mixed marriage on mutual understanding and I also told her that it is up to you to choose whether to adopt my name or not. I don’t want to submerge your identity in my identity.
Are you blessed with any children?
We are not yet blessed with children, but they are coming.
After university, did you have jobs coming up?
My immediate need was to get into university. I remember I had a disagreement with my mother. One of my uncles had proposed that I go to a teachers’ college because we did not have enough money for me to go to university. At that time, we were paying Shs 550,000 per semester, including registration.
I told my mother, give me the little that you have. Let me go to Makerere and I will find my way around. When I came back after the first semester, my mother asked me, have you returned? I said, well, I have returned. But I finished my exams. She thought I had retreated back home to sit.
How much had she given you initially?
Shs 300,000 and I had to look for Shs 250,000 to top up. My friend, Hon Kibanzanga Christopher, gave me Shs 200,000. The other Shs 50,000 was given to me by another friend, he used to work with ISO, he was called Cpt Baguma.
He was my classmate and we used to discuss together with him. Then during the process also Hon Kakoba Onyango gave me some contribution here and there.
Where had you found Kibanzanga?
He is my OB in Kasese primary. We were also members at Kasese Town Council Students Association and I took over the chairmanship from him. So, we were really close. He was also a patron for that association. I wouldn’t say we are contemporaries but we behaved like so.
I know Kibanzanga is a brother to the Rwenzururu king and we have seen you recently as part of the team trying to rescue the king from prison…where does all this come from?
Before even the Businga bwa Rwenzururu, this one that was recognized recently, I have two paternal uncles who participated in the Rwenzururu struggles and they are actually beneficiaries of medals. So, it is not something that started today, my clan has contributed always.
As I speak now, the head of the Bakunda clan is my cousin. My father took part also and I have been dreaming to have the legacy to carry one. But even then before that, when the king returned from the mountains, my maternal grandfather was his deputy of the elders’ council, which was chaired by the king himself, and he took care of the kingdom when the king went to the US.
Besides, the king is my uncle. He is a Muhira, a brother to my mother. They are clan mates. I am even going to pass it on to my next generation. It is not something I am about to give up.
Plays Heal the World by Michael Jackson
When did you get bitten by the political bug?
I have been an activist for quite a long time. Even that student association, our spectrum was quite big. We advocated for people’s rights. I kept on challenging myself. Losing hope every other time. I asked myself, for how long will I remain in the backyard, pushing other people, clapping hands for them?
At some point I financed, put in the very little I had to candidates who were aspiring for leadership positions. Then this time I said it’s is high time I also took a frontline position. I believe it doesn’t matter whether I walk alone as long as I am walking in the right path.
Were the 2016 parliamentary elections your first go at politics?
Yes. I laid my strategies, I remained firm, I financed and fundraised and I made it. One bullet, one kill!
What angers you?
I really get angry so much when I deal with dishonest people. It doesn’t matter how hurting the truth may be, but say it.
What gives a good laugh?
Honesty. But I never get so much angry, many times people will see me with a smile even when the situation is very tough. I will always try to smile.
What is your typical day like?
I wake up at about 6am, to beat the jam and catch the 8 o’clock meetings. On average, I have about three meetings a day and plenary which starts between Tuesday and Thursday. On other days, I am moving between ministries and agencies trying to find opportunities for my people.
I also have a community development organization which I started in memory of my mother; it is called Mama Centenary Community Support Programme. I have some donors on board who are helping on economic empowerment programme. We have a health centre which we built. But I also keep in touch with my electorate by calling them up to see how they are.
How do you relax?
If I am to relax, sometimes I go to a health club. When I have an opportunity, I can go out dancing with friends. But I also do holidays, being in the tour industry, I am passionate about nature. I can go to the national park but can also go out of the country.
What is your best dish?
I like Obundu, they call it kalo, this one with cassava and millet. And fish, tilapia.
How do you wash it down?
With passion juice.
Plays We Are The World, USA for Africa
Abdullah Kitatta, the Lubaga NRM chairman, has advised President Museveni to appoint an army officer as minister for Kampala because civilian ministers like Beti Kamya are weak and untrustworthy.
According to Kitatta, all the Kampala ministers so far have pursued personal agendas rather than services for ordinary citizens. Speaking on CBS’s Nze Nga Bwendaba (The Way I See It) programme on Friday, the Boda-Boda 2010 patron said: “The president should have handed Kampala to an army officer who can tell the truthand made him minister for Kampala. But these people he just picks have their own motives. They are money-hungry with their own agendas.”
Kitatta spoke out in protest against minister Kamya’s order halting elections being organised by taxi operators in the city. The Kampala minister recently said that only the Electoral Commission (EC) was mandated to organise such elections.
In 2014, Kampala against witnessed a standoff between KCCA executive director Jennifer Musisi and Kitatta, who chairs the National Union of Drivers, Cyclists and Allied Workers (NUDICAW). The latter went on and organised the elections despite Musisi’s protests.
On Friday, Kitatta wondered why Kamya was interfering with taxi operators’ elections and not those of other sectors like market vendors. He said he informed all parties through writing and advised Kamya that if she wanted to sabotage taxi operators’ elections, she should inform him through writing.
Kitatta sounded a warning to Kamya – that unpopular actions such as the impending eviction of the Nakivubo Park Yard vendors and antagonising boda boda riders, were the reasons Kampala massively voted against the NRM.
“As the chairman of NUDICAW, I have announced elections. How can a minister come out and say that she has halted them? How? And I haven’t even been notified in writing. If she is a minister, I am a chairman in the party that appointed her as minister. She should not despise me but we should sit and share ideas,” Kitatta said.
“If she didn’t get 85 per cent in Lubaga North, how is she going to get it for Museveni?”
Ever since she ordered that all vendors of Park Yard market be evicted to enable construction of a modern market, Kamya has come under fire from politicians. Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago said all Kamya’s actions were due to the fact that she is idle.
Police on Tuesday arrested a presidential advisor with ivory worth Shs 1bn in his house in Makindye, a Kampala suburb.
Yekoyada Nuwagaba, a presidential advisor on politics, was picked up on Monday by detectives attached to the Flying Squad, a police violent crime crack unit.
Esther Mbayo, the minister for presidency, confirmed Nuwagaba is a presidential advisor. She, however, said she was not aware of his current troubles.
According to the Flying Squad commander Herbert Muhangi, Nuwagaba was arrested by a joint team of his operatives and officials from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) after a tip-off from informers.
“This man on Monday called some businessmen whom we cannot disclose and told them how he was selling ivory and other materials worth Shs 1bn,” Muhangi said.
Yekoyada Nuwagaba recording a statement at Central Police Station (CPS) on Tuesday
Muhangi said that after getting the tip-off, detectives contacted officials from UWA and stormed Nuwagaba’s home in Makindye disguising as potential buyers.
“After we reached an agreement to buy the ivory at Shs 800m, we pulled out our identity cards and arrested him,” Muhangi said.
Muhangi said all the ivory and other related items have been taken to UWA head office in Kamwokya for examination.
“UWA will first test the ivory and when it confirms it’s ivory, he will be charged because ivory business is illegal,” he said.
Nuwagaba was also taken to his other home in Kawuku, along Entebbe road, where police claims to have recovered sensitive documents. Last Saturday, Flying Squad operatives also arrested three foreigners with two tonnes of ivory valued at $3 million (approximately Shs 11 billion)
Illegally dealing in ivory carries a maximum sentence of seven years in jail or payment of a fine not exceeding the price of the confiscated ivory.
BETTY NAMBOOZE, the Mukono municipality MP and Democratic Party regional president for Buganda, has challenged her party president general Norbert Mao to speak out openly about which DP, "the good or bad," he belongs to.
Her challenge follows a recent reference by President Museveni to Fred Mukasa Mbidde as a good DP. Mbidde is the DP national vice president. Speaking to Baker Batte Lule at her home, Nambooze said it was high time Mao worked to rid the party of all 'NRM' members who are passing themselves off as DP. Below are excerpts.
What do you make of the recent appointment of your former DP national chairman Muhammad Kezaala as an ambassador?
You know [President] Museveni has been having these people in the opposition working for him. Like any other leader, he carried out a reshuffle and made some redeployments; so, Kezaala was called back to serve at his party’s headquarters.
You mean he has been NRM all along?
Yes, he has always been NRM but what I don’t know is at what point he joined the NRM. But if you see the way they have been running DP, you would realize that they were no longer running it in the interest of the party. I’m happy that Museveni has chosen to redeploy Kezaala in another position. My only worry is, I don’t know who has now taken on his [Kezaala] role in DP.
If you knew he was NRM, why did you accept to work with him all this time?
I have never accepted to work with him but I accepted to work for my party. Even in very bad communities, there are a few good individuals who work for the good of that community.
Why didn’t you say Kezaala was NRM before he was ‘redeployed’?
Actually I did; go and ask him whether, as DP chairman, he chaired any meeting where Nambooze sat. Not everything we do, we publicize. I have never attended any meeting chaired by Kezaala because I knew I couldn’t sit under his chairmanship to deliberate for DP. I don’t want to sit with NRM people to plot against NRM.
Before you became a leader in DP, you knew the kind of people you were going to work with. Why are you complaining now?
Everybody who was at Katomi [Kingdom hotel, where the DP delegates’ conference took place in 2015] knows that Nambooze has never sought a leadership position. I decided to go to Katomi because people had gathered in the name of the party I support.
At Katomi we had different groups of people. There were those who genuinely believe in DP, there were some rented audiences [crowds] from Arua park who posed as delegates from Western and Northern Uganda. Then there were those from Kampala who go to any gathering to spy, and security guys from government.
When people saw me, they pleaded that I take up that office [president Buganda region]. The requirement was that to be a leader, you had to apply days before and pay Shs 300,000. I didn’t do any of those things but DP needs leadership.
It’s unfortunate that I have been sick for a year but you are going to see how I’m going to use that position. I hope that the good DP doesn’t chase me away. What I intend to do for DP in Buganda, even people working for Museveni are going to know that their time is up. After all, DP is in Buganda.
What do you say of Norbert Mao’s leadership as DP president?
Mao knows he became DP president general through a coup that was facilitated by foreign forces. For me, I gave him all my support hoping that he would repent and allow the party to go through a process that would produce legitimate and legally elected leaders.
When I see him on NBS TV’s frontline talking about Museveni’s problems, I say maybe this man knows what he is talking about. I don’t know where he gets that temptation to do wrong things yet when you talk to him you hear a democrat talking. But eventually he ends up [to be] just a talker. When you listen to Mao talk, you can say this is a leader but wait until he leaves the microphone, he can’t even kill a fly if that fly is the problem of Uganda.
But you said he has killed DP.
Mao hasn’t killed DP. But people who wanted to kill DP installed him to stop an able leader from taking that office. But DP is an idea that can’t be killed, what Mao has done is stall it.
I have heard you amplify the idea of good and bad DP; where does Mao belong?
It is up to him to tell the country where he belongs. I didn’t coin that word; it was Museveni who said there are some good DP members who work for NRM. For us who stick to the ideals of DP on which the party was founded, we are bad before Museveni and any other dictator.
For now, we will leave the good DP to Museveni and take the bad DP because that is what offers bad news to dictators like Museveni. For the time being, I have offered to lead that group and if Mao is part of us, let him come over, I will be very happy to hand over to him.
So, are you carrying out a coup against Mao?
I’m carrying out a coup against Museveni’s DP. I hope Mao will be very happy with me for re-emphasizing his position. What I’m doing is leading a new voice that calls for sanity in the party. A president who loves his party will support any member who calls for sanity.
Have you talked to him?
I have decided to write to him and very soon he will get my letter. I’m suggesting that it’s high time we carried out major reforms in the party. We need to rebrand, come up with a code of conduct for members, re-discuss the term of office for leaders; one year is so short a term. It’s high time we also separated the DP leadership from the party’s flag bearers.
Are you considering standing as DP president general?
Even if I’m to stand as DP president general in the current arrangement, I will also be defeated. We should first talk about reforms in the party, then we will get the right leaders. You don’t go to Kampala and pick up people and then line them up to vote for you as president general; that is mob justice.
Why did you go to Katomi yet you were privy to all this detail?
How could I have known this if I had kept away? I kept away from the Mao mob for five years [from] 2011 to 2016. It did not work; it is only a mad man who does the same thing and every time he expects different results.
If I had travelled with the Maos to Mbale [for the 2010 DP delegates’ conference], I would have been given a very big office but I didn’t go. For five years, I waited to see whether my keeping away would yield any results; it didn’t. This time I decided I will take the bull by the horns. I went to Katomi and found the mob good enough. I also found a delegation from Buganda who said they wanted me to lead them.
Do you see anyone in DP with capacity to lead the party to another level? There is talk that the lord mayor [Erias Lukwago] has some interest.
The struggle we have undertaken will be misunderstood if I started pointing at individuals as possible leaders. I don’t want to discuss my good friend Erias Lukwago but I will be comforted if people like him return to offer the party their energies.
Speaking about Lukwago, you fell out with him when you decided to side with Mao’s DP. What is your current relationship with him like?
That is a question you can also answer. Is Lukwago my enemy; he is not. This time round we differed in strategy. In 2010 we agreed that we should not go to Mbale.
In 2016, I was for confronting Mao and for him he chose to keep away. I think that is a small contradiction for politicians to keep as a grudge. The principle was the same; for me I was for confronting Mao and for him, he said let’s start TJ [Truth and Justice], a breakaway faction we would use to reform DP. How successful that has been is a discussion for another day.
Has it occurred to you that some people might interpret this as a Buganda strategy to dislodge Mao?
So, do they want me to denounce my being a Muganda? Mao has always cited these tribal sentiments; that he is being fought because he is not a Muganda. I will never be made to explain myself over my tribe. My issues are very clear; nowhere in my submission have I said that things in DP are not moving well because of a tribe.
But they always raise the issue of tribes as a tool of blackmail. Should I go and hang myself because I was born a Muganda? I’m not a Muganda by application, neither is Mao an Acholi by application.
When it comes to issues of either building a hospital or shrine in Mengo palace, I don’t expect Mao to turn up. However, we are talking about the Democratic Party and nobody should use the tribal card to intimidate people raising pertinent issues about the party. Blackmail as a tool is outdated to be used on modern politicians like me; my issues are very clear.
Earlier you said DP is only in Buganda; wouldn’t one be right to conclude that because the party is in Buganda, you feel it should be led by a Muganda?
Those are your words, for me what I said is that when we go for elections, it is only here in Buganda that you find organized DP structures. In other areas people rent delegates. I traveled to Karamoja and I kept asking who is DP here; you couldn’t even find an LC-I chairman belonging to DP.
You have also termed as machinations, dealings between NRM and DP over Eala [East African Legislative Assembly]. Can you throw more light?
There is a clear syndicate between the two parties. The fact of the matter is that NRM is going to vote for itself and DP. But frankly for me Eala is just a small matter. After all, it is just a mock parliament; so, Mbidde can go. There is no problem with that. Let him go without any pretence; he is going there to represent the interest of Museveni in that mock parliament.
So, you say Mbidde is NRM?
I’m saying he is going there to represent the interests of Museveni. Leaders in these East African countries have interests they want to export to the regional body; so, Museveni thinks that his interests can only be catered for if all the nine MPs are people he can relate with and [they] take orders nicely.
It so happens that our own Mbidde has been identified as one of those people who fit within Museveni’s context. You know Mbidde struggled to join parliament; he did everything, including standing in different constituencies, and he didn’t make it. So, out of desperation, he entered a deal with not even the NRM but Museveni as a person.
Which kind of deal did he make with Museveni?
You scratch my back and I scratch yours. When he goes to that international forum, he will not do things that antagonize Museveni’s leadership. Leaders in Africa got worried by the example set by Ecowas, [West African regional grouping that ousted long-serving Gambia leader Yahya Jammeh]; so, they are no longer taking these regional groupings for granted. Museveni wants to be sure that people he sends to Eala don’t build up pillars as strong as those of Ecowas.
So, Mbidde is not any different from the other NRM six members?
In fact, he is more important to Museveni than those other six members. He feels that NRM has done him a favor and in politics it is those people who occupy positions out of favor who will outdo themselves to please their masters. There is no bigger prize than when you are being praised by somebody who is supposed to critique you.
You say FDC has no chance whatsoever of sending a representative to Eala?
Unless they learn the tricks that produce Eala MPs.
You go silently and kneel before the man who gives; the one with the majority in parliament and swear that you will not do anything directly or indirectly that will put his interests at stake.
In your view, has Museveni succeeded in annihilating the opposition like he vowed to do last year?
On the surface it appears as if he has succeeded in destroying the opposition. But let me tell you, the darkest hour of the night is the first hour of the new day; dictators always collapse when they appear to be at their strongest.
Yes, I admit that we might appear to be at our weakest but this gives us the reason to go and reorganize. It’s through these challenging times that we will build a strong opposition. The biggest asset we have is that the population is solidly together saying they have had enough of Museveni.
Dr Boney Katatumba, a businessman, property mogul and diplomat, died yesterday, leaving behind a legacy of successful accomplishments and a reminder that life is not always a smooth ride. He was 71.
Katatumba will be remembered for his business acumen, which saw him accumulate property in the 1980s, including a private aircraft that he piloted himself. He exploited every opportunity to talk about what he loved so much.
On January 14, 2017, at the peak of the battle between Olive Kigongo and Andrew Rugasira for the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UNCCI) presidency, Katatumba wrote a short note to the latter: “The UNCCI needs new dynamic leadership and [to] pick lessons from when it was vibrant.”
“Come and we talk,” he added.
On vibrancy, Katatumba was referring to his time as leader of the chamber of commerce for five years from 1996 – then, it was seen as one of the most active umbrella bodies, advocating for the rights of business owners and entrepreneurs. As news of his death trickled in yesterday, businessmen and friends took to his Facebook wall to eulogize him.
RIP: Boney Katatumba
Betty Kabubi wrote: “Rest in peace Uncle Boney; you were one in a million. You thought above and beyond for everyone in your family.”
During his tenure as UNCCI president, Katatumba met Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf while leading Ugandan business delegations to the rice-growing nation. Musharraf later became Pakistan’s president. That’s when Katatumba was appointed the consul general of the republic of Pakistan in 1999.
That was not just it. His love for business saw him climb more ladders. In 1999, while still the UNCCI president, he was appointed chairman of the G77 Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the United Nations, representing at least 133 developing countries. But that came when he had already made his mark.
His story starts somewhere in Mbarara, where he was born in April 1946. In the story, which he often told to journalists, Katatumba said he began selling banana juice to passengers aboard buses plying the Mbarara-Kabale route when he was only seven at Nyamitanga primary school. He would even employ some older villagers to squeeze and pack the juice while he went to school.
And it was here that he discovered his business blood or his knack to take risk. This would show when, during his S4 holidays from Ntare School, he saw an advertisement calling for expression of interest in managing Nganwa hostel, which he applied for and won.
He told Daily Monitor in 2012 that he was puzzled by how he maneuvered his way through the competition from both rich men and graduates in Mbarara. When he moved on to Old Kampala SS for A-level, he hired a trusted friend to run the tender on his behalf.
Big things were yet to come. According to his LinkedIn profile, Katatumba did a bachelor’s degree in sociology at Makerere University from 1969 to 1971. In an interview with NBS TV’s Kungula programme in 2014, he said he had studied management economics and sociology.
“After studying at Makerere, I started a company called Design, Construction and Material,” he told NBS. “My brother George Willian Katatumba, [the premier of the defunct Ankole kingdom] who studied architecture in Nairobi, inspired me to start construction business. When he came here, I said since I have a business mind [let me start a company we work together]”.
“I don’t have a fixed mind, I pick what makes money,” he said.
It was during this time that he started the construction of Hotel Diplomate at Tank hill in Muyenga. He could not finish it because he was forced into exile by Idi Amin after regime loyalists ordered for building materials from his company and he told them they were out of stock.
He completed the building in 1983 when he returned. At first, it was a residential home which he later turned into a hotel. As World Bank and IMF expatriates made endless trips to Uganda between 1988 and 1992, when the country adopted the structural adjustment policies (SAPs), they sometimes slept at his hotel, making him thousands of dollars.
Among his key properties was Katatumba Suites, which was later renamed Shumuk House in a heated dispute with businessman Mukesh Shukla. The former Black Lines House, which was redesigned as a condominium, Katutamba told NBS, has up to 92 plots.
“The beauty with this style of building is that you can sell some and stay with some plots [on the same building],” he said.
But it is this building that Katatumba has spent the last years of his life fighting to retain. It is a story of him making friends with Mukesh as a business partner who turned tormentor.
Describing Mukesh as a “conman” on his LinkedIn page, Katatumba writes that he “forged a lease on Katatumba Suites and planned with lands ministry officials to include Hotel Diplomate and Banda Island.”
Other sources, however, claimed that both Katatumba and Mukesh failed to live up to their part in the bargain, hence the protracted dispute. At one point, a court order was issued for Katatumba to vacate the building. In 2012, Katutumba claimed there was an attempt to kill him, perpetuated by his business nemesis Mukesh. The latter denied the allegation.
The High court’s Commercial division ruled in 2014 that the building should return to Katatumba. Mukesh appealed against the decision. At the time of his death, the appeal was yet to be heard.
A loving father, Katatumba was always present at his daughter Angella Katatumba’s music concerts. He was also a travel enthusiast. According to his LinkedIn page, Katatumba had nine children from three different mothers.