Reviews & Profiles
Tim Lwanga: I am one of the few clean politicians
Posted Wednesday, January 8 2014 at 02:00
Tim Lwanga considers himself one of the cleanest politicians in the country. He also believes that he is a generous man and one who lives life to the full. He tells Edgar R. Batte his story.
Tim Lwanga needs no introduction. He is a seasoned politician but unlike your conventional politician, he says he is one of the very few clean and incorruptible ones.
Lwanga dares anyone to list 10 politicians with untainted profiles and images, saying he comes up among the top.
That is the confidence with which he shreds fellow legislators for what he describes as perpetual commercialisation of politics, calling them mediocre and cheap.
He explains, “I think sometimes MPs today lack seriousness and think politics is a commercial venture. Politics is not a commercial venture. Today, we are talking about fighting corruption but MPs themselves are corrupt.”
Away from the politics, Lwanga is an amiable person, always seemingly full of life.
Lwanga loves music and is not your usual A-class reveller who will only nod to a good song; he will express his excitement with a wide smile, a hi-five with friends or even try out some dance strokes.
“I like dancing like mad,” he confirms. He is a happy 65-year-old, who lives his life to the fullest. The legislator says many people have thought him a liar when he opens up about his age but he says he has always been fit and he takes good care of himself.
While his contemporaries recline in a chair after a day’s work, he will be at Kampala Sheraton Hotel’s health club, sweating as he works out.
“I am one of the oldest members of Sheraton’s health club. I have been working out there since 1989,” he states in a matter-of-fact tone.
A sunny Saturday afternoon is when he agrees to my request for an interview. He is at Magic Parking, just next to Christ the King Church, along Colville Street.
In khaki trousers, T-Shirt, sneakers and a cap, he is dressed appropriately for a Saturday when all he does is sit around to chat with friends.
Later on he enjoys lunch, steamed matooke, sweet potatoes, yams and fresh fish. He is in no hurry or under no pressure so he enjoys the meal at leisure. Later, he takes some tea. This is how perfectly slow the day is for him.
When your writer compliments him about keeping a well-cared for car, he offers him a ride to one of his houses in Kololo, a lavish home he rents out. This is something he is not comfortable talking about for fear of being called a braggart. He has more of the same in the same neighbourhood and other Kampala suburbs. Real estate, he says, is something he describes as a “good investment”. He has a home in Bugolobi that sits on a few acres, complete with a fully-equipped gym.
“I do not stay there anymore. I have since bought another house which my wife says is more homely. I agree because it is quiet,” he says. This particular home is in the neighbourhood of high profile people.
This he says as he tests the speed-merchant in him on the Northern By-pass. “I love speed. My cars are stable and firm on the road,” he says, smiling after realising I am fastening my seatbelt. Lwanga loves German cars and he is devoted to Benzes and Jaguars.
He says, “I like good things.” Indeed he does because the interior of his Benz despite being a UAK series smells and looks new. He drives with the air conditioning on to keep out the dust. It is spotlessly clean and in sound condition. His other car, a jaguar, receives the same care.
Lwanga says he is a God-fearing person. In the three hours or so we spend together interjections of “God willing,” come naturally. He is a Christian who says he prays at almost every church.
He brings the reality to the statement “age is just but a number” with his signature teenage, hearty laughter.
“I would think I am a kind person, sometimes too generous,” he adds about his character traits. I prod him on this. The legislator reveals that he has looked after people who he even doesn’t know. “I used to pay school fees for about 60 children even before I joined politics,” he adds.
He has also taken on the responsibility of looking after children of friends, like the children of the late Maj Patrick Kiggundu, who died in a plane crash with John Garang.
“I looked after them, I steered them, made sure they had a house, made sure that their money was not squandered, made sure that they go to school and stay at school. Now the youngest daughter is a university student. She is basically my daughter,” he explains.
This attests to the family man that Lwanga is. “Biologically I have four children but between my wife and I, we have five. I love my kids very much,” he adds. He has raised the children with his wife Florence. His children are all daughters and so I ask him whether he feels bad about not having a son.
“Not yet, maybe in the future. I like my children very much and of course the children give you a reason to live and work,” he notes.
Lwanga is pretty much an open book. Among the many things he shares about is his family lineage. Mutekanga is his other name and he hails from the royal lineage.
His father Wilton Lwanga was a great grandson of Ssekabaka (former king of Buganda) Nakibinge Kagali.
“We are the sons of the grandchildren of Kayizi Kaganda, the first born of Nakibinge. And that is our relationship with the royal family.”
Being a royal comes with many things. Admittedly, Lwanga says he was a very spoilt child. “I was the last son of my dad and I was very spoilt by my aunts and father. If you touched me he would kill you,” he recounts.
He also adds, “Well, one of my jajjas (grannies) was a Katikiro (Prime Minister) of Buganda. He was called Paul Kavuma.”
I am curious to learn about how a chartered accountant (he studied Accounting at Makerere University) ended up as a politician, an occupation he took on at 19, in 1971.
He was a student at Makerere University where, he says, Ruhakana Rugunda recruited him into politics. Rugunda went on to campaign for him to become a member of the university guild which became his political office.
“That was Rugunda for you. He initiated me into it and I have stayed in it ever since. I was part of the young people of Makerere. We were trying, in a stupid way, to overthrow Amin because we were very naïve,” he says with a smile.
This was a daring project to undertake but Lwanga says they tried nonetheless.