Tribute to My Sister, Friend Sarah Kagingo

At Makerere University, the name Sarah Kagingo is still fresh and vivid in everyone’s mind.

It is as if she was a renowned professor. Only she was not!

Kagingo was the second female guild president of my alma mater, the great Makerere. Anyone who has gone through Makerere since 1999 has heard about the name Kagingo, as if Makerere has not had any other (female) guild presidents since her time. Kagingo was a daughter of the Movement, as she fondly calls herself.

She was the first NRM-leaning candidate to win an election at the institution since 1986. She initiated the study groups, pan-African clubs while at the university, and the students began to embrace NRM. Products of these clubs include Hon Richard Towdong.

The Movement still had clear-headed leaders like the late Brig Noble Mayombo, who visited and supported these clubs. By the way, doesn’t the NRM have other Mayombos? Why are these proud young ministers not engaging the youth and students like Mayombo did?

I first met Kagingo in February, 2012, in a commiitee room of Parliament. We had a productive and youthful meeting chaired by Col Fred Mwesigye. I sat next to Kagingo in a group of about 15 young people, and this is when I came to appreciate her intellect. This formidable team had been organised by Robert Rutaro, also a former guild president at Makerere.

We were on a mission of rolling out a nationwide programme of sensitising the populace about the president’s message on prosperity for all with emphasis on commercial farming and raising of household income. We wanted the president’s re-election in 2016 to be easier and we were the first group of young people to openly support President Museveni’s fifth term in 2016. This was long before the so-called pro-Museveni youths started plagariasing the idea.

At the end of the meeting, it was agreed that Kagingo takes over the daily operations of this group as the general secretary. I was tasked to be her assistant, since she had a busy schedule running the president’s errands. The achievements and progress of this group will be discussed another time.

But something has fundamentally gone wrong. Kagingo’s intellect, knowledge and abilities can’t be wasted away, moreover in an embarrasing and degrading manner. Look at how her official car was withradwn: plain-clothes security personnel flanging her gate open like thieves, and sending her children in disrray, etc! Was this force necessary? By her own admission, Kagingo felt broken.

We have to remember that the politics of this country and the continent are being shaped by the youth. Only recently in Burkina Faso, an entrenched military leadership of 27 years was chased away by angry and hopelesss youths. In 2016, half the voters in Uganda will be below 30 years.

Therefore, any contenders of any position ought to court the youth. Treating a youthful cadre like Kagingo in a degrading manner sends a wrong message to the youth.

As great supporters of NRM, and particularly President Museveni, we are worried by the actions and behaviour of these all-powerful aides around the president that continue to behave with impunity, disregarding the political situation in the country and on the continent. Who is responsible for hiring and dismissing workers in the country’s top office? Is it the president, the powerful comptroller, or some spirit somewhere?

We all remember how a certain man, a cleaner at State House, was disgracefully dismissed for being sick. The powerful presidential press secretary, Tamale Mirundi, mocked this man and dismissed him in the media for being sick. What pyschological effects did this humuliation cause to the relatives of this disgraced man? Imagine, if they were President Museveni’s supporters, didn’t they get second thoughts?

Recently, the same Mirundi fired Kagingo through social media. When Kagingo asked for her termination letter, she was reminded that she didn’t have an appointment letter! It seems the president has given many of his aides powers to hire workers for certain projects and programmes, and also to fire them at will.

This is happening everyday. Unlike Kagingo, who has been a high-ranking official, there are other lowlier people going through similar treatment. The public needs answers on this. Why are their children being embrassed, humiliated and disgraced?

Lastly, Kagingo has done her part. She has defeated wrong elements who have been conning the president of collosal sums. How can designing of the State House website cost Shs 600m?

Now, the website is off, being redesigned and upgraded by an American company. I know many Ugandan companies who would have done this work, actually better than Americans. No, Americans are always brighter!

Sarah, our time to shine is coming. I wish you the best!

The Banyankore say: “Ngu nibagambira abahansi ngu n’ab’ahaiguru bahurire.”

The author is a former NRM chairperson, Makerere University.

Source : The Observer

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