Sunday June 15 2014

In praise of Jacqueline Mbabazi for her illustrious work for Uganda

By Prof George W. Kanyeihamba

In England before 1934, a married man and his wife were one and he was that one. Under the Uganda Constitution, a married man and his wife are equal before, during and after marriage. Today, that equality is exemplified by the beliefs, acts and utterances of one Ugandan woman, namely Jacqueline Mbabazi, the wife of Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and a daughter of the Rev. Ruhindi.

During the making of the Uganda Constitution of 1995, a number of women delegates distinguished themselves as contributors, debaters and originators of ideas that came to be part of the Constitution and governance of this country. They included Cecilia Ogwal, Miria Matembe, Joan Rwabyomere, Winnie Byanyima, Speciosa Kazibwe, Hope Mwesigye, Margaret Zziwa, and Faith Mwondha, among others. They individually or collectively exuded political wisdom and patriotism. They made an impact on the nature and content of the Constitution, its structure and governance of Uganda.

Following the adoption and operationalisation of the Constitution, a host of other women such as Honourables Rebecca Kadaga, Ms Betty Bigombe, Janet Museveni, Maria Mutagamba, Beti Kamya, Grace Akello, Amelia Kyambadde, Alice Alaso whether in or out of government, actively participated in Uganda politics and governance. Others have since followed in the steps of these Pioneer Ugandan women politicians and leaders.

Many Ugandans applauded Janet Museveni when she decided against her party’s wishes at the time to stand as a Parliamentary candidate. She defied them, stood and won and has since made significant contribution to her party, constituency and country. Her reported stand and rebuke against Amama Mbabazi for his alleged wrong-doing urging him to repent before the Almighty God continue to reverberate in the country’s corridors of power.

In recent years, however, it has appeared as if these good ladies of transparency, accountability and courage have been swept off the platform of integrity and good governance and instead, have been swallowed by male chauvinism, abuses and corruption. This is a regrettable occurrence in the Republic of Uganda. Ugandans of all ages, parties and both sexes should be persuaded once again to join in the elimination of the largely male dominated corruption, misuse of power and marginalisation of the disadvantaged in society.

Nevertheless, in recent times, one woman has stood up and courageously showed her convictions and defended them publicly. Jacqueline Mbabazi, almost single handedly, has stood up against the NRM party leadership and its methods of work which she believes to be wrong and corrupt and bravely criticised the manner in which her political leaders are endavouring to depart from the norm of what is expected of them. Jacqueline Mbabazi has decided that in the interests of her party and nation, intimidation, coercion, bribery and cheating should not be accepted as the tools by which Ugandans choose their leaders and means of governance.

Many Ugandans may not always agree with the choices of the subjects she campaigns for nor her methods of achieving them but we ought to acknowledge and admire her courage with which she fights for her beliefs and causes. Those of us who know her well have always recognised her devotion to and her love of her husband, family and country. She, her siblings and supporters, should be applauded for their convictions and courage.

It is through the beliefs and activism of the likes of Jacqueline Mbabazi that transparency, accountability and direction of purpose will be realised in the Pearl of Africa. Recently, a young lady soldier who happens to be a good golfer was the subject of amorous attentions of a young man. In resisting the man’s offers, she pushed him away with the words, “I am a UPDF soldier by profession and a Mukiga by tribe. Stop it. Otherwise I will send you into oblivion”.

Prof Kanyeihamba is a retired Supreme Court judge.