As she bowed out of elective politics recently, Ms Winnie Kiiza, the Kasese Woman Member of Parliament, said she will not back down from the struggle to bring ‘change to this country’.
Her decision to step away from elective politics caught many by surprise as she was still a ‘darling’ who articulated issues on the floor of Parliament, making strong contributions that endeared her to not only her constituents but also to several Ugandans.
Ms Kiiza, who did not announce her next move then, left many guessing what the vocal leader could be up to. Well, on Wednesday, Ms Kiiza was unveiled as a new member of the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT), formed by her longstanding comrade Gen Mugisha Muntu.
She is now the fourth legislator that has joined the ANT, following her colleagues Paul Mwiru (Jinja East MP), Gerald Karuhanga (Ntungamo Municipality) and Kassiano Wadri (Arua Municipality).
In a statement released on her twitter handle on Wednesday, Ms Kiiza explained that she is leaving the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), a party she has subscribed to since its inception 16 years ago to join ANT, where her “struggle for the liberation of Uganda will best yield”.
"I have done all I could to progress the FDC party and our objectives. While our struggle to liberate our country remains the core objective, our methods are fundamentally different and it is important that I partner with those with whom we agree on ideals and means," she said.
The former Leader of Opposition in Parliament who has legislated for the last fifteen years, reiterated that she will remain active with the forces of change without seeking re-election.
“I am able to speak and participate in active politics even without being in an elective office. This decision was made in consultation with my elders and stakeholders to whom I made promises when seeking office and I have kept my word,” Ms Kiiza said.
"I also wanted to practice what we preach by creating room for other capable women leaders in Kasese the same way room was created for me. It will give me much joy to participate in the election of Museveni successor,” she added.
Kasese District Woman Member of Parliament, Ms Winnie Kiiza, has quit elective politics fifteen years after she entered the House.
The former Leader of Opposition says she will remain active with the forces of change but will not offer herself for political positions in the 2021 general elections.
"I have talked and talked against overstaying in power, I will not be different if I sought office this time. I know the people of Kasese loved me and wanted me to continue being their Member of Parliament. It's a job I loved doing because I knew I had the backing of my people had their support. I want to thank you for the support you've given me," Ms Kiiza said on Tuesday.
Ms Kiiza added that, as leaders they need to democratically demonstrate peaceful retirement and give room for others to also lead the country since it’s what the FDC party believes in.
Kiiza thanked religious leaders, Dr. Col. Kizza Besigye, Gen. Mugisha Muntu and other politicians who have exposed her to the highest level of leadership in the country as the leader of opposition in parliament.
She revealed that she will be supporting any candidate in the opposition party who intends to come up to liberate the country.
One of her supporters, Ms Patience Biira said, “I feel so bad as a voter, I still need her service as a legislator in the district”
Kiiza served as the district councillor representing Kisinga and Kyodo Sub Counties for two terms before joining parliament for three terms.
In his statement, founder Alliance for National Transformation, Gen (Rtd) Mugisha Muntu said Ms Kiiza represents the very best of political leadership.
"She has served not just her constituents but all Ugandans with dedication and integrity. Over and over again, I have seen her put country before self in both word and deed. As Leader of Opposition, Hon. Kiiza presided over one of the most inclusive and competent shadow governments we have had. Appointing her to that position was one of my best and easiest decisions," he tweeted.
The former teacher served as the Leader of Opposition in Parliament from May 2016 until August 2018 when she was replaced by Betty Aol Ochan.
The last race at a glance
Kiiza in 2006 beat Loice Biira Bwambale (NRM) who once served as Deputy Minister of Gender from 1992 to 1994 and a member of the National Assembly of Uganda from 1996 to 2001. Bwambale had held the seat from 1989 to 2006 before she joined the Rwenzururu kingdom as the first Deputy Prime Minister in 2010.
In 2011, Kiiza beat Rehema Muhindo (NRM) both in the general election and in the subsequent by-election in 2012. The first vote margin was over 6000 votes while in the second round the margin was over 40,000.
In 2016, Kiiza beat Jane Asiimwe Muhindo (NRM and now RDC Bunyangabu district) to tighten her strong grip on the seat.
So far over 10 women had shown interest to carry the NRM flag while in the FDC party; Kiiza had already faced 4 competitors from her party.
How Kiiza faired in the last 2 elections
In 2011, Winnie Kiiza polled 92, 108 beating Rehema Muhindo who got 90, 624 making a difference of 1484 votes.
In 2016, Winnie Kiiza polled 123, 170 of the 345, 130 votes cast to beat NRM’s Asiimwe Jane Muhindo who garnered 70,564 votes making a vote margin of 52, 606.
Some of the aspirants
Among those who are fighting for the NRM flag include; Sarah Itungu Masereka-Baleke who holds a Master of Arts in Economics Policy Management, Post graduate certificate in Program Monitoring and Evaluation, Post Graduate Diploma in management (Finance), Bachelor of arts (honor) in Economics among others. She is the CEO of Sisters Love Events Décor (Sled).
Others are; Jesca Ithungu Muluba holds a bachelor’s degree in social work and social administration, Sadress Kalengyo Kayiri, Doreen Lhusenge, Annet Asiimwe, Ester Kimbwembwe, Silvia Kalyaki, Grace Biira, Ithungu Norah Matsande and Merryline Kabugho Kighota.
FDC has so far four candidates including Ruth Kabugho who holds bachelor’s degree in counselling and psychology and a Post graduate diploma in Public administration. She is currently the FDC Secretary for social services at the district and also a lady councilor representing Bulembia and Central division in Kasese district council, Florence Kabugho, Annet Masika and Agness Kyakimwa.
There has been talk that you used your office as LoP to steal money meant for FDC as a party. What do say?
My leaders, I think, are just being unfair to me because they know that I didn’t touch money for the party. And I am not a signatory to any party account. I am not an accounting officer neither am I the chief accountant of Parliament where the money comes from.
The money they have been accusing me of [stealing] is contribution of the MPs which is given by individual members who instruct the chief accountant of Parliament to deduct from their salaries every month. I have also been contributing since 2006 up to date.
It is really unethical for the party leaders to say Winnie diverted the money that does not go through her.
I am going to personally cause an inquiry because my own contribution is part of the money they say was stolen. I want to know where my money has been going. Who has been eating that money?
For now I have temporarily suspended remitting to the party beginning with this month [October] until I am given a thorough accountability for my money. I am not alone. There are many FDC members who have suspended their contribution pending an investigation into who has been taking the money.
Can’t the members continue contributing as they demand for accountability?
The main issue is about accountability. Our party has been asked time and again by the party members why they should continue contributing when the party is getting money from government because of their numbers in the House.
Each political party is given funds by government depending on how many members it has in the House. And since we finished buying the house for our headquarters, the members have been asking, why they should continue contributing personally since FDC is getting political party funds.
They say you diverted the money to the FDC office in Kasese, where you are the Woman MP
Kasese parliamentary caucus operates an account which we submitted to Parliament for remittance of our monthly contribution to the district office. That Kasese account, I am not even a signatory to it. The principal signatory is Mr Saulo Maate the district chairman (FDC) and there is no way money can get out of that account without Mr Maate authorising.
Have there been instances where the money meant for national headquarters is diverted to Kasese?
I can confirm that even previously, money (for headquarters) was going to the Kasese account but we would realise early enough because this money for the members was servicing a loan in bank and I think the moment the money would not be reflected on the bank account for the purposes of paying the loan, then the bank would call FDC.
The party would come back to the accountant of Parliament who would tell them the money was banked mistakenly on FDC account, Kasese branch. Then, we would call Mr Maate to withdraw the money and put it on the FDC account. Well, I don’t know why that system collapsed. May be because there is now no specific activity for which the MPs are contributing and therefore they would not know when the money goes to Kasese.
I am not the one who posts money from Parliament. There is no letter from me telling the accountant of Parliament to bank the money on the Kasese account.
There has been talk out there that you could have used that money to fund Gen Muntu’s countrywide consultations…
That is why I would be more interested so that Muntu can equally be set free. Where Muntu gets his money nobody knows. Why couldn’t they say that I have been using that money to fund defiance activities? Why are they tagging it to Muntu? This was not Muntu’s money and members were not contributing towards Muntu to do consultations. They are contributing towards the FDC party.
As far as you know, are there audits carried out on the books of accounts in FDC?
We know that the party audits but the unfortunate bit is that the auditor of the FDC accounts is the secretary general (SG Nandala Mafabi).
He audits himself, so sometimes we may not be sure whether the audits are correct or not. So it should be interesting to know what is happening in Najjanankumbi because the SG is the accounting officer at the same time the auditor. That is why members feel uncomfortable about the issues of accountability.
Have you met Mr Amuriat since he dropped you as LoP?
I have not. And we have not had an official meeting because he has not asked for it. For me at least I was giving him reports of what we were doing in Parliament, so maybe it is from those reports that showed I failed the service.
What is your view that there is need for a united front by Opposition political parties to capture State power?
Indeed we need a united front as Opposition. All these political groupings do not need to look at each other as rivals. I would pray that the FDC doesn’t look at any other Opposition political party as an enemy because as long as we are chasing the same goal, we should now make ourselves stronger.
There are rumours that President Museveni could make a Cabinet reshuffle soon and he seems to look to fish from the Opposition. Would you take such an appointment?
I can tell you, I even want to let Museveni know that he should never even try because I can never serve under Museveni.
Winnie Kiiza’s take on Key issues
On FDC MPs’ monthly remittances
Majority of the members remit Shs450,000 and those who have additional responsibilities (in Parliament) remit Shs500,000. I have been remitting Shs500,000 since 2006 when I held different positions in Parliament. When I became LoP I said to myself that let me lead by example. I topped up on the mandatory figure with Shs350,000 from my monthly emolument of Shs3m. I have been contributing Shs800,000 per month.
On being accused of diverting money
One reason I am saying my party is unfair and they are hypocritical is that they have never called me at all to ask why I used the money before they went public talking about that. They should have called me to find out if really I have that money. But because they know that they have that money and they have eaten it, they just don’t want to account to members who have been asking for accountability.
On being dropped as LoP
Changing me without information was okay because I wouldn’t die in that office because I am heading towards government. Very soon we are taking over leadership and we shall cease to be in Opposition. And personally I was not meant to be a life Leader of Opposition, I was using that office for training purposes so that when we take up government, I am solidly training to even take up big assignments from my bosses.
The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Winnie Kiiza has said she is ready to be sacked by the in-coming new leadership of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).
Ms Kiiza, the Kasese Woman Member of Parliament backed the outgoing FDC president Mugisha Muntu in the just concluded party elections.
Gen Muntu, however was defeated by former Kumi County Member of Parliament Patrick Amuriat Oboi last week during a party delegates' conference at Namboole.
Ms Kiiza says she is not the first and won't be the last leader of opposition in parliament. She among opposition Members of Parliament who joined Gen Muntu at Hotel Africana on Wednesday as he announced a new round of consultations he will embark on.
In this new round of new of consultations across political divide, Gen Muntu says he will be mobilizing Ugandans to participate in local council elections, mentoring pro-change Ugandans across party lines and mobilising all Ugandans to pressure government to drop their efforts of changing the provisions of the constitutional provisions on presidential age-limits and land.
Ms Kiiza says she was appointed leader of opposition aware that she would be serving for a maximum of two and a half years. Ms Kiiza replaced Mr Philip Wafula Oguttu after last year's elections amidst dissatisfaction from a section of Forum for Democratic Change supporters who felt that Muntu should not have appointed opposition team.
The opposition chief whip Ssemuju Ibrahim Nganda says the issue of the leadership in parliament was being raised during the campaign for presidency by the Amuriat group. Ssemuju says Muntu has been blackmailed for appointing opposition leaders when a section of FDC leaders thought they won elections and were rigged by the ruling party.