By Herbert Bukenya
It has been a hot actually boiling year politically in our nation Uganda and through the good, the bad and the ugly these are the politicians that have stood out greatly.
Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine)
Having won the Kyadondo East by election earlier this year with, his music career not only blew up but his popularity as a politician hit fever pitch. He floored NRM’s seasoned politician Sitenda Sebalu and then incumbent FDC’s Apolo Kantinti having just suffered a setback with part of the road to his Busablala beach razed by Mengo on grounds of land encroachment. The later seemed to be a blessing in disguise as it gave him a chance to play victim and when the opposition refused to endorse him as an official candidate the people decided he is the man. His songs too hit the airwaves more with even banned songs like ‘Freedom’ spreading like a wild fire through social media. His letters to the President, resistance to the amendment of article 102 (b) of the constitution and his punching and kicking antics in parliament when ‘aliens’ entered the sacred chamber all made for a spectacle.
Hon. Raphael Magyezi
He was a no body in Uganda’s mainstream politics until he became the face of a campaign to change the constitution and get rid of article 102 (b) which was limiting the age of anyone interested in contesting for presidency to 75 Years maximum and 35 years minimum. The Igara West MP put his life on the line to ensure this bill sails through parliament amidst strong opposition from the masses, a number of fellow MPs and various stake holders in the country’s politics. And for his ‘odd job well done, don’t be shocked when he is on the next cabinet list, after all he has military guards already.
Hon. Ibrahim Abiriga
Retired UPDF Colonel and former RDC Ibrahim Abiriga has been one of the biggest proponents of the age limit lift although he never says a lot of constructive things in parliament. His ever full ‘yellow jersey’ call them Kaunda suits at times track suits have got him more media coverage than many of his contemporaries. While his academic papers are wanting like a number of his colleagues in the NRM, this old gentleman was in the KCCA court for urinating on the walls of the Finance Ministry and walked away with a fine of just shs. 40,000 earlier in the year. And that together with his full yellow jersey has made him a talking point mainly in the negative and comical light over the past year. He is NRM’s top celebrity this year.
Hon. Nobert Mao
The President of DP is known as probably the most eloquent politician Uganda has had in the last 20 or so years. Outside his home turf of Gulu Municipality and the top echelons of DP politics, Nobert Mao hasn’t amounted to a lot beyond his beautiful rhetoric to the disappointment of many.
But the Togikwatako campaign a brain child of DP in 2017 has given him a decent piece of the headlines and made him part of a series of events that will be remembered for a long time. Yes he was among the architects and originators of that famous line and the acts of defiance that followed, for once I will say Kudos Hon Mao, you did Uganda proud!
Rt. Hon Rebecca Kadaga
One might say it was the beginning of the end of a great political career for the Sepaker of Uganda’s Parliament Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga. Well she has always dodged presiding over the house when the issues on the floor are controversial putting her deputy Rt. Hon Jacob Oulanya in the line of fire. Word in the corridors is this time he also decided to step away leaving his boss with no option but to steer the ship. Having been known for her neutrality and at times disagreeing with the Executive on some issues in parliament Kadaga couldn’t escape this one, it has been about the very survival of a man she owes a big part of her political career to, H.E President Yoweri Museveni. So she led the house as the constitution was changed to extend his tenure and remove the age limit amidst which aliens believed to be part of the state’s security operatives found their way into parliament and beat up hapless opposition MPs who seemed to be determined to stop the changes.
A few apologies from her to them, votes of thanks from MPs on the floor from the ruling party nothing could change course, she is as good as any other soiled politician from the ruling party but luckily for her, her political future looks intact after all her party still controls power and resources for the foreseeable future. But the rising star she was, a potential Presidential candidate at one point is almost no more!
Hon. Patrick Oboi Amuriat
The former Kumi County MP was just another decent politician with in the FDC political ranks until he entered into an alliance with FDC’s biggest politician to date Dr. Kizza Besigye to try and wrestle the party’s Presidency away from Rtd General Mugisha Muntu who has been at the helm for 5 years.
And to wrestle him out of power they did amidst accusations of the Muntu camp being aided by the sitting government and the POA side being too radical beside the politician from Uganda’s North East being a ‘hard sale.’ Any way POA made history being the first man from that region to lead the country’s main opposition party and the first of the non NRA/M bush war veterans. We are waiting to see what else he will bring to the table besides being a new face while watching Mugisha Muntu closely on his next moves too.
Hon. Betty Nambooze
The Mukono Municipality Member of Parliament last year further proved that she is worth to be a legislator.
From carrying out developmental projects for her constituents to joining the strong force which strongly resisted the amendment of the age limit cap. In the due process of protecting the national constitution, Nambooze was among the September victims who were badly injured during the fracas at parliament alongside Zaake of Mityana Municipality. Her backbone was severely injured to the extent of being flown to India for an operation. Nambooze also introduced the red ribbon into the Tojikwataka campaign which has come to symbolise the defiance group and she has already gone on record to say that she will resign her MP seat come 2021 after the House amended the term for MPs to seven years. No other MP has come out boldly to declare their intention to honour the five year term.
Hon Ruth Nankabirwa
She is NRM’s Chief Whip in Parliament and has been up and down all year first trying to deny the party’s interest in changing the constitution to have their Chairman and President of Uganda rule till he is tired.
Secondly as the Magyezi bill picked momentum it not only got lots of opposition from the MPs outside the ruling party but also NRM members and it has been Nankabirwa’s job to silence opposing voices with in, win them over and also try and soothe the enraged masses. She has done quite well always coming out to deny and correct whatever accusations she feels have been unfair to her side the ‘Gikwateko’ supporters.
Hon. Simeo Nsubuga
He was one of the first victims of the ‘Gikwateko/ Togikwatako’ battle that has dominated our politics all year round. While attending the Kabaka’s 24th coronation anniversary celebrations in Mubende he was attacked by a one Kyuma Kya Yesu a Togikwatako enthusiast and activist. In his remarks on the incident, Simeo said he restrained himself from retaliation as a professional police officer. Most recently, he openly confessed that they are the ones ‘eating’ and was one of the happiest members of parliament when the controversial Age Limit removal bill passed.
Rtd. Gen Henry Tumukunde
Not your typical politician, some would say he isn’t a politician at all but having played a key role in the Presidential campaigns of 2016 being deployed to neutralize Amama Mbabazi, this General who got into trouble a few years back with his bosses for speaking his mind brought a new dimension to the scene. Police Chief Kale Kayihura would be the best person to talk about his impact as the Security Minister has made checking the absolute control of the security circles by the Police chief one of his priorities. With Kayihura’s top lieutenants behind bars for all sorts of crimes, he has been demystified by an old foe in the military and the world of espionage as well all to the delight of the appointing authority who always wants to have everything under his control according to reliable sources. The once indomitable Kayihura who once looked like the Czar of Uganda’s security now looks like just another police chief as his wings have been clipped.
This group was in the limelight all year round by virtue of their positions, words and their presence in various media on a regular basis but didn’t exactly have very impactful influence on the state of affairs. So they remain in the almost made it class; Hon. Evelyn Anite, Hon. Winfred Kiiza, Hon. Chris Baryomunsi, Hon. Muhammad Nsereko, Lord Councilor Muhammed Ssegirinya and Hon. Miria Matembe.