POLITICIANS WHO MADE THE YEAR

The year 2014 is just a few weeks from coming to an end and as that happens, we profile leaders (political, technocrats, corporates & others) whose visibility made news this year.

These are leaders who gave us fodder-things to write and read about-because of the impactful way in which they conducted themselves and executed their duties. They include the following and the respective reasons on things that made them stand out.

THE LIST

Eng Kabagambe Kaliisa: The Energy PS managed to improve transparency, efficiency and service delivery in the energy sector. Fewer scandals exploded and Kabagambe managed to help President Museveni nominate names to constitute governing boards for both National Petroleum Authority and National Oil Company whose offices/secretariat is being finalized. Kabagambe also managed to improve work relations with Parliament and Cabinet because of his increased availability to answer relevant concerns. This has resulted into numerous awards Kabagambe personally and the Ministry has won this year.

One of these awards came last week by the American United Graduate College which conferred upon him the Honorary Professorship & PhD at hotel Africana. In the same year he also got a continental award from Mauritius-based African Leadership Award at Sheraton Hotel where President Museveni noted this was well merited recognition for the down to earth technocrat from Bunyoro. The awards book shows that he has also excelled at delegating, grooming and mentoring a vibrant team of technocrats at the Ministry ready to carry on when he retires in the near future.  There is now stability in the sector compared to what it was 3 years ago during the oil debates in parliament.

Museveni: It’s not very surprising the President features on this list. He is fountain of honor and has been in news as MPs went around the country marketing his sole candidature. Besides, he has also excelled at continental leadership and physically getting involved in community mobilization aimed at annihilating HIV and poverty. He has also continued being a grass root president ever available to interact and mingle with his people.

President Museveni
President Museveni

He has also won more allies and admirers nationally, regionally and globally as he led the Pan African stand against ICC which was determined to go after Kenyan leader Uhuru Kenyatta.  Ability to reach out and reconcile with previous foes like Speaker Kadaga all combine to make Museveni the shrewdest politician of our time.  He also kicked out his Premier Mbabazi and life continued, showing he can do the way he wants, no matter who you are, and gets away with it.

Crispy Kaheru: Prompted by his mentor Livingstone Sewanyana, this CCEDU National coordinator singlehandedly started CSO-based calls for electoral reforms which gradually got embraced culminating into a 3 day very successful national conference late last month at Hotel Africana. He has also led teams to do election monitoring in all by-elections within Uganda and abroad and nothing would have given this outspoken activist a sense of accomplishment this year than the national conference at which consensus was built despite refusal by the ruling NRM to take part. His CCEDU organization has also grown even in terms of staffing levels-veteran city scribe Charles Mwangutsya being the latest recruit.

Mbabazi: The NRM SG no doubt made a lot of news and will certainly continue to do so. Imagine dominating such media space even before he says a word about his presidential ambitions? We can’t imagine how much excitement there will be the day he declares.

Amama Mbabazi
Amama Mbabazi

The Kyankwanzi retreat of February was all about him and his undeclared ambitions have dominated the Ugandan media conversation up to this day. It has been hard to divorce whatever happened in NRM this year from this calculatedly very composed man.  He hasn’t uttered a word but billions continue to be spent and claimed in his name and news articles continue to be authored about the same.

Jacqueline Mbabazi: She is the spouse for Mbabazi and her outspokenness has created euphoria of sorts around the Mbabazi brand. In April she gave her maiden newspaper interview describing IGP Kayihura as Afande teargas which enriched our political vocabulary. She spoke once and kept quiet-sparking a lot of responses from across the country. She subsequently appeared in CEC and courageously took on Museveni face to face like nobody else has ever.

Jacqueline Mbabazi
Jacqueline Mbabazi

She among other things told him there was no offence in harboring presidential ambitions, reminding him 30 years in power was a life time. Subsequently many young couples went to social media claiming to have named their newly born daughters Jacqueline after her.  Some naughtily claimed to have developed appetite to marry Bakiga babes because of her guts.

Ivan Bwowe: The Makerere Guild President doesn’t need much introduction but this surely was his year. He led many welfare-related successful students’ demonstrations prompting Museveni to severally intervene blocking proposed 10% tuition increment besides undertaking to shoulder 100% of staff wage bill by central gov’t.   Bwowe’s riots even saw top police bosses sharply disagree on whether to use force or dialogue with students.

Gen Kayihura: From the April leaked secret spy conversations to Community Policing/Centenary celebrations and getting new contract, the police chief surely had a good year. He made news going to communities to mobilize against crime, depicting his pro-people approach to modern policing.

IGP Gen Kale Kayihura
IGP Gen Kale Kayihura

His incorruptibility, humility and hard work continue to inspire thousands of youth across Uganda. Some envy trust Museveni and first family have in him. He is the man many Musevenists credit for emboldening those who risked to expose pro-Mbabazi political schemes.

Erias Lukwago: His wars to regain his Mayoral office raged on within court and on the streets which kept him constantly on our TV screens. At some point the running battles with police spilled into his huge compound at his Wakaliga residence. His concerned elderly parents in Masaka reached a point of begging him to let Museveni take the Mayorship of that will bring him peace. Notwithstanding the suffering and humiliation he has endured, Lukwago remains the biggest Muganda politician now when it comes to pulling crowds. The year 2016 will be more of his year than even this one as many will need his endorsement to win elections.

Frank Tumwebaze: His efforts to continue keeping Lukwago out of office kept Tumwebaze in news as well as his relentless efforts to market pro-Museveni ideas within NRM namely sole candidature and the idea of an appointed-as opposed to a democratically elected- SG. The other aspect of him was during a public televised governance debate at hotel Africana where he single-handedly took on opposition leaders including Besigye, Zarc Niringiye and others.

Sarah Kagingo: This light skinned babe too had her own share of the 2014 news agenda. Her woes with a powerful group of Museveni aides led by Maj Nakalema saw Kagingo acrimoniously lose her job as Manager Museveni’s social media platforms.

Sarah Kagingo
Sarah Kagingo

Kagingo did a courageous thing when she stormed Jinja road police demanding action against Nakalema whom she accused of battering her often as if she was beating a snake.

Kizza Besigye: Like he has done since 1999 when he first took on Museveni, Besigye continued to be a major newsmaker for both local and international media outlets on Uganda and the arrest of his long term aide Sam Mugumya too has created more visibility for him and those he closely works with.

Besigye stressing a point (Photo by Michael Kakumirizi)
Besigye stressing a point (Photo by Michael Kakumirizi)

He is so phenomenal that even after leaving formal leadership in FDC, Besigye has continued to make news actually more than even the party itself.

Jeniffer Musisi: Being the head of KCCA which is the biggest and richest local government entity in Uganda makes Musisi an inevitable newsmaker. Besides the good roads she has made, most of the KCCA-related news Musisi has made has been bad news relating to the much-publicized brutality of her enforcement officers who haven’t spared the life of even young toddlers the most recent of whom died right there in her KCCA back yard.

Eng Byandala: The Katosi scandal right there in his ministry of works gave this Luwero politician great publicity including the belligerent media exchanges he had with cabinet colleagues John Nasasira, Frank Tumwebaze and others.  Byandala, who acted in good faith hoping expeditiously awarding the road deal would result into political capital (read votes) for Museveni, ended up having to defend himself as if he personally did anything wrong for private gain.

Brenda Nabukenya: She made a lot of news relating to Luwero by-election where she decisively defeated State-backed candidate Rebecca Nalwanga of NRM.

Brenda Nabukenya, Luweero Woman MP
Brenda Nabukenya, Luweero Woman MP

Nabukenya’s bid demonstrated that it was possible for opposition parties to work together. The race attracted Museveni who went around struggling to counter bad publicity his former VP Gilbert Bukenya’s pro-Nabukenya utterances had created amongst the Luwero peasants.

Adam Luzindana: He is the NRM youth league chairman for Kampala and made news this year by being the invisible hand behind the NRM POOR YOUTHS Movement whose countrywide networks have continued giving Museveni sleepless nights as they propagate the pro-Mbabazi gospel. It was him who solely mobilized majority NRM youth league executives to a Makerere guest house news conference where they declared war on Museveni and his MPs.

For long Luzindana remained the face of the Mbabazi undeclared presidential bid and is ending the year relentlessly continuing to work towards Museveni’s downfall. The boy from Bukoloto/Kayunga continues to prop up many youth leaders all aiming at bolstering the Mbabazi bid. He even paid the price, having to be incarcerated in Luzira along with Omodo-Omodo.  To many of his admirers Luzindana, who intends to run for presidency in years to come, is the Ugandan version of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. NRM youth leader Aggrey Kyobuguzi, who has known Adam since University days, says Luzindana is a go-getter who is capable of doing anything including trying to mortgage Lumumba Hall while still a students’ leader there (Kyobuguzi likes cracking this joke about Luzindana).

Jackie Tahakanizibwa: She was among the newest kids on the corporate block in Kampala having been recruited as Manager CSR and Communications for Post Bank Ltd. She has spent the year organizing CSR events within Kampala and upcountry towns and thereby increasing PBU’s visibility. Her media-friendly personality has attracted a lot of media good will towards the PBU brand resulting into numerous coveted awards PBU has won this year. Her visibility is expected to increase in 2015 as PBU’s new water and sanitation product (meant to increase access to clean/safe water) rolls out.

Charles Peter Mayiga: The Tofali man is also famously nicknamed Sejjaka by his staff in Bulange. The name Sejjaka was coiled after Mayiga demonstrated desire for publicity and respect wherever he goes including demanding that his story should always be top priority for radio, TV and newspaper editors. That joke a side, the Buganda Katikkiro has made so much news this year as the country reflected on his successful fundraising drive throughout the country and abroad.

Buganda Kingdom Premier Charles Peter Mayiga.
Buganda Kingdom Premier Charles Peter Mayiga.

His charismatic speeches have enriched the Luganda vocabulary and increased the popularity of some Luganda words. Wherever he goes, Mayiga, who has registered a lot of infrastructural achievements in such a short time, begs Baganda to love their Kabaka “nera nera nera [more and more],” perfectly mimicking the signing Goodlyf duo. His wide appeal has in fact escalated the popularity of that song. To be Continued!

By John Sserwaniko