People & Power

Goodbye Njuba, Ssemajege

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MPs pay last respects to Njuba on Tuesday.

MPs pay last respects to Njuba on Tuesday. Photo by G. Sseruyange  

By Yasiin Mugerwa

Posted  Sunday, December 22   2013 at  02:00

In Summary

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal -- Albert Pike.


It has been a tough week for politicians and journalists. First, two former MPs died last week and in the same week, we lost a member of Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA). Faisal Tusiime, formerly working with Record TV and Top TV died on Wednesday morning after months of ill-health. Tusiime was kind and thoughtful. He was cool-headed and his memory will remain with all of us who cover Parliament. Goodbye Tusiime.

Secondly, it was the first time in the recent history of our Parliament to see two caskets lie in state in Parliament. MPs met on a heart-rending Tuesday to bid farewell to deceased colleagues; Sam Kalega Njuba, former Kyadondo East MP, and Dr Higiro Ssemajege, the man who initiated the idea that Banyarwanda should be recognised in the 1995 Constitution as one of the 56 indigenous groups that lived in Uganda when the borders were drawn by the British on February 1, 1926.

In trying to understand why death is a bitter truth we can’t avoid, we acknowledge that our time in this world is limited; that all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to loved ones. It is impossible to tell how death is like since no one has ever died and resurrected to share the experience.

In fact, the experience of dying varies tremendously from person to person and no one knows when they are going to die. The gloom in the House explains why Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, the man who chaired the two historic sessions, asked members to always remember December 17, 2013, the day the institution of Parliament paid homage to two former MPs because: “God is telling us something”.

As is the practice in the House, the motion to pay tribute to Njuba, who was the chairman of the biggest opposition political party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), was moved by Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and seconded by Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Nandala Mafabi.

The two principals described Njuba as a great leader, a democrat, an accomplished advocate, a politician and an elder who served Uganda in various capacities.
In 2011, he chose not to seek for re-election and retired to private business. He offered free legal services to residents and cherished the rule of law and constitutionalism.

Nandala described the late as a great patriot, cool-headed, and a principled lawyer who fought for what he believed in. He said he was a man of character and a principled leader. They said in 2001, the late left the ruling party on principle unlike other politicians who have sold their souls. Former vice president Gilbert Bukenya said Njuba was not a hypocrite.

Gen Elly Tumwiine, and others described Njuba as a “freedom fighter”, a selfless person, and a steadfast man, who exhibited leadership qualities of a democrat, who stood for rights and freedoms of the people, shared values of development, reconciliation and rule of law. Mr Ssemuju Nganda, who replaced Njuba as MP for Kyadondo East, said Njuba died a “frustrated person” because he envisioned a country where disputes could not be resolved by tear gas and kiboko squared.

Dr Ssemajege farewell
As for Dr Ssemajege, a former deputy speaker of Buganda Lukiiko and a renowned elder in the Banyarwanda community in Uganda and a former CA delegate, again, the motion was moved by Prime Minister and seconded by Masaka Municipality MP, Mathias Mpuga, on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition.

Those who worked with the late talked of a “clean man” and generous person. Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo, who holds a constituency Dr Ssemajege held during the Constituent Assembly, praised the late as a farsighted leader who cherished unity. He said the late was straight forward and highly spoke against the habit of Banyarwanda hiding their identity.

Busiro East MP Medard Sseggona, as the former deputy information minister in Buganda government, worked with the late. He said Dr Ssemaje grew up in the palace and that his father was a friend to Sir Edward Muteesa.

That he was mentored to be a leader and that he was not a leader by accident. That he natured good leaders and was a kind person. He was a federalist and could not hide his feelings.
Ssemajege was not petty and allowed people to express themselves. He also served as the chairman of the committee on Economy in Parliament and secretary of Constitutional Review Commission to which Njuba was also a member.
Bribery allegations

Indeed wonders never cease! Last week, the Rules, Discipline and Privileges Committee investigating allegations that some MPs pocketed bribes from Umeme, heard that a closed circuit television (CCTV) footage at Protea Hotel where the MPs allegedly received envelopes to vote against the Energy Ad hoc Committee report broke down. The Committee on Wednesday asked police to investigate the circumstances under which the CCTV camera failed to work.