Former Leader of Opposition Winnie Kiiza at her home in Kyaliwajjala, a Kampala suburb recently. PHOTO/FRANK BAGUMA

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Winnie Kiiza busy doing what she loves

What you need to know:

  • After active politics. Winnie Kiiza worked in different leadership capacities since her graduation from present-day Makerere University Business School; she narrates her journey to Parliament and retirement to Esther Tusiime Byoona. 

For more than 10 years, Winnie Kiiza has been a force  in the opposition politics of Uganda. She shocked many in 2020 when she declared that she was not going to seek re-election.

“In 2020, I announced my decision not to run again and I was happy because I had participated in mentoring young people and I told them to carry the mantle from us,” Kiiza says of her political career but what is life like now?

Beginnings
During one of the interviews at a local TV station,  Kiiza talked about how in her childhood, she sold pancakes to raise to tuition.

Upon her graduation from MUBS, Kiiza worked as operations manager at Jungle Tours and Travels for a year. Then, she became  stores in-charge at Dragados Constructors who were building Bwera Hospital. Such roles equipped Kiiza with leadership skills.

Then, Kiiza’s first election for public office was in 1998 as district councillor for Kisinga and Kyondo subcounties which she did not win. But as fate had it, her opponent was a civil servant and the law did not allow civil servants to serve as politicians. So, Kiiza grabbed the chance.

“There was a by-election in June 1998 which I won and I became the district councilor. I was also appointed as the as the secretary for finance and administration, a position in which I served passionately,” Kiiza recounts.

She from 1998 to 2005 and in her second term got appointed as secretary of social services to oversee education and health services in the district. During her tenure, the students thrived because of her keen supervision.

Then, came politics
In 2006, she ran on the FDC ticket as Woman Member of Parliament for Kasese District, and she won. Her arrival in parliament came with more roles; she was to act as the deputy Opposition chief whip which was foreign territory.

“I did not know parliamentary etiquette but I believed in my abilities,” she says, adding: “These positions prepared me for the office I took over in the 10th parliament as Leader of Opposition (LOP) in 2016,” recollects Kiiza.

Her appointment made her the first female LOP since Independence. She says she enjoyed working in that capacity because it gave her an opportunity to understand how government works.  

Former Leader of Opposition Winnie Kiiza. PHOTO/FRANK BAGUMA

When she left the office of LOP in 2018, Kiiza decided not to contest in the general elections of 2021 which shocked many.

Preparing for life after politics 
Asking her about how she prepared for life outside politics, Kiiza explains that she prepared psychologically and had to alert her family and friends about her decision. 

“Many people I told did not want me to leave, but  I had to,” Kiiza says with an air of nostalgia.
Her  plan was to use her third term to prepare for life outside politics, but her preparations were cut short when there was an attack in her constituency in Kasese in 2016 which left many injured, others imprisoned and orphaned or dead.

“I had to deal with the emergencies that were coming in. Together with my other colleagues in parliament, I had to look for lawyers and follow up on the sick,”she says.

That season was difficult and she desired a break to rejuvenate. She was not running away from her duties but she felt she had done all in her last term as MP.

Asked if she was ready for life outside politics, Kiiza says she was ready and she is thankful for the Parliamentary Pensions Scheme which enabled her to save.

Is money essential for retirement?
Kiiza says retirement needs much more than money; when someone holds an office, they should know that one time they will have to leave.

“If you have that at the back of your mind, you stay in that office without struggling. Many people struggle a lot because they think that office is where their lives revolve,” she says.
Kiiza remarks that if one knows they are supposed to leave, they ought to treat others nicely because at some point they will need them.

Missing work
Kiiza says she does not miss her typical work day because she is busier than when she was still a Member of Parliament. The difference is that she plans her day and does things she loves.

The former LOP notes  that as a member of parliament anything would interrupt her schedule and she had the obligation to attend to it, from a funeral in her constituency to a wedding, where she would be the guest of honour.

She is happy that she can now plan her day according to her whims. She observes that she is still busy but pursues her passion.

Daily schedule
Kiiza starts her day by preparing her children to go to school. As soon as they leave; she takes her breakfast and starts on the day’s work.

On some days she has meetings and mentorships. The politician explains that she started Alwiki Leadership Initiative Centre for East Africa which helps leaders to understand the good ideals of democracy.

Her two cents
“Kiiza says politicians should know that the power is short-lived. She says they should not plan to cling to it.
“It is humiliating to be thrown out after serving people,” Kiiza explains.

She advises people to stay true to themselves and not to let the status quo get into their heads until they fear to retire. The politician adds that one should have a project that will provide an income during retirement.

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