At about 7am on November 5, former Kyadondo South MP Issa Kikungwe was pronounced dead at Mengo hospital where he had undergone an open skull surgery to remove a brain tumour. He was aged 54.
He was among the 33 people who were operated on by a visiting team of surgeons from Duke University, a private research university located in Durham, North Carolina - USA.
Before the surgeons came, Kikungwe was mobilising funds to go back to India where he was first operated on in 2011. The ailment kept him away from parliament for most of the time, forcing him to announce in 2012 that he would not be standing again for parliament.
Until his death, Kikungwe was the national treasurer of Uganda’s oldest political party’ the Democratic Party (DP), that he joined during his student days at Makerere University.
“I got to know him in 1988 because he was very active in student politics at the university; he was a year ahead of me,” said DP president general Norbert Mao.
Mao was at the school of Law while Kikungwe at the faculty of Commerce from where he graduated with a Bachelor’s of Commerce degree in 1989.
His first shot at national politics was during the 2001 elections when he contested and defeated former deputy chief justice, then state minister of Defence Steven Kavuma who represented Kyadondo South in the Constituent Assembly and the 6th Parliament.
It was after this loss to Kikungwe that Kavuma got appointed to the judiciary.
“Kavuma was very well en- trenched in Kyadondo South but Kikungwe helped us to uproot him and held the constituency for us up to this time,” Mao said.
Before the 2005 amendment of the Constitution that returned the country to multiparty politics, Kikungwe was an ardent proponent of multiparty democracy, and in parliament, he identified himself with DP even with the departure of the likes of former Terego MP Kassiano Wadri, Prof Morris Ogenga Latigo (Agago) and Samuel Odonga-Otto (Aruu) to form Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) in 2005.
“It was difficult time for those of us who identified ourselves as DP in parliament. Our colleagues left at the same time Patrick Musisi (Busiro South) died. We needed new energy in the DP caucus as I took over as the chair of the caucus and Kikungwe joined me to form its leadership,” Mao told The Observer.
They worked together in the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee that scrutinised the Constitutional amendment bill that scrapped the presidential term limits.
He put heads together with Mao and Otto to write a minority report challenging the Jacob Oulanyah majority report that supported the lifting of the term limits.
“He also chaired the government assurances committee, a position that he used to highlight many of the government’s unfulfilled promises,” Mao said.
He also served as DP whip in the 8th Parliament.
The former Kibuli SS head boy had dying love for boxing, a sport that he participated in and financed. He was a member of Zzana boxing club which in September 2013 endorsed his bid for the presidency of Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF) that he lost to Kenneth Gimungu.
Earlier in 2009, he had competed for the presidency of Uganda Amateur Boxing Federation (UABF) that he served as vice president (Technical).
Given his long ties with the boxing fraternity that he served in several administrative positions, Kikungwe sought to end the wrangles that had eaten up UABF.
During his burial at Nabbingo in Wakiso district, Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago told mourners that at the time of death; Kikungwe was leading efforts to reconcile him (Lukwago) with other DP leaders.
“He has engaged me several times, the DP leaders present here can attest to this. He has presided over a series of meetings aimed at reconciling us and I want to urge my colleagues in DP that Kikungwe’s efforts should not end in vain,” Lukwago said.
Kikungwe contested against Lukwago in the 2016 Lord Mayoral elections after the latter declined to pick the DP flag.
“I asked him why he chose to run against Lukwago because in my view, [Lukwago] was one of us but he told me that he was in the race to keep the DP flag high,” his eldest son, Umar Kikungwe, told mourners.
KIKUNGWE'S LIFE AT A GLANCE
• Born June 22,1963 in Bukomansimbi
• 1989 graduates from Makerere University
• 1991 joins Peacock Paints Ltd
• 1994 starts own Cockpaints Ltd
• 2001 joins parliament as MP Kyadondo South
• 2005 with Norbert Mao and Odonga Otto authors a minority report against removal of presidential term limits
•2011 taken to India for a surgery to remove a brain tumour
• 2012 announces that will not seek re-election as Kyadondo South MP
• Elected DP national treasurer during a delegates' conference at Katomi Kingdom hotel near Entebbe
• 2015 contests for Kampala lord mayor on a DP card
• 2017 dies at Mengo hospital