The sate minister for Housing, Persis Namuganza, is a bare-knuckles fighter. Namuganza, like a juggernaut, rolls from spat to spat, collecting fights like a bounty hunter.
On December 7, Namuganza invited the speaker of parliament, Anita Among, to a duel when she accused the speaker of fighting her. Foras, the uninitiated and blissfully ignorant, we stumbled over Namuganza’s claims that the speaker procured ‘a fraudulent marriage.’
Over 170 parliamentarians have now signed a motion to censure Namuganza. It has been rather befuddling as to what exactly Namuganza stands accused of besides being Namuganza.
Purportedly, from the royal Bukono chiefdom in Busoga kingdom, a few media houses amusingly refer to Namuganza as ‘Honorable Princess.’ In 2018, the Bukono chief disparaged Namuganza’s princess claims. Chief Godfrey Mutyaba Nkono, who has also had his share of squabbles with Namuganza, told the Eagle Online, “She has never been our sister...She has never been a princess. Living with royals cannot make you royalty.”
Let us revisit Namuganza’s original story. According to the website, FlashUgNews, Namuganza started out in 2009 as a lowly programs officer in the NGO world. By 2012, she had caught the eye of the president who appointed her deputy resident district commissioner (RDC) for Luweero district.
By 2013, Namuganza was at odds with the district chairperson and bush war veteran, Haji Abdul Nadduli over land conflicts. Two bulls in a small muddy kraal. In 2016, Namuganza contested successfully on the ruling party ticket for the Bukono county parliamentary seat.
President Yoweri Museveni, in a February 2016 speech, intimated that he had delved into the fights in Namuganza’s constituency and assuaged the egos of pro and anti-Namuganza factions. Museveni revealed that Namuganza, whom he referred to as “my own daughter,” had fallen out with the NRM leaders in her region, which prompted him to seek her out.
Museveni further revealed that Namuganza had been one of his most loyal youth cadres, which is why he appointed her deputy RDC in 2012. At this point, we must proceed with caution and ponder like sages. He/she who gets into the boxing ring with Namuganza must remember the president considers her his own daughter and a most loyal cadre.
Having pondered that, one then should assess the veracity of their own NRM cadreship and consider carefully their weapon of choice. Two years into parliament, Namuganza had the caucus of Busoga region parliamentarians baying for unapologetic blood. In March 2018, the caucus summoned Namuganza.
They accused her of “threatening to harm/kill the speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga, abusing residents of Kamuli district and belittling the Kyabazinga of Busoga, Prince Gabula Nadiope IV.”
The Nile Post reported that Namuganza claimed Kadaga was unfit and improper to represent Kamuli’s people. Additionally, she said Kadaga had outlived her usefulness as speaker of parliament. There is more. The caucus further stated that Namuganza had demeaned the Kyabazinga, calling him illiterate and incapable of leading Basoga.
Namuganza scoffed at the summons, told off the Busoga caucus when it ruled to eject her that they should concentrate on countering Busoga’s problems like jiggers. Eh! Namuganza!
The ferocity of Namuganza’s fights, once more, calls us to pause and ponder. One must consider the force of Namuganza, that unrepentant impetus to fight without care for populist grovelling.
Many political leaders caught in her position would go down on their pretentious knees and make nice for the cameras. But that soft life of grovelling and not burning your bridges is not for Namuganza. Namuganza goes hard!
In 2020, the acrimony between Kadaga and Namuganza came to a head when Namuganza challenged Kadaga for the coveted seat of second vice NRM chairperson. Kadaga’s campaign focused on her achievements while Namuganza aggressively attacked Kadaga, branding her ‘a traitor’ and ‘enemy of the president.’
Still, Kadaga emerged victorious with 6,776 votes against Namuganza’s 3,943. Today, Namuganza, facing the wrath of her fellow MPs, is miraculously full of praises for Kadaga, saying the current leadership of parliament is wanting, and cannot be compared to Kadaga’s steering.
Meanwhile, the nagging feeling grows. We are missing something. Namuganza’s spat with parliament’s leadership arose from a parliamentary ad hoc committee in May, which fingered Namuganza for abuse of office and unlawful allocation of land.
Consequently, Parliament Speaker Anita Among gave the Executive two months to update the House on action taken to hold Namuganza accountable. Five months later, the minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Planning Judith Nabakooba on December 1, updated parliament that the president is yet to respond to parliament’s recommendations.
As parliament sets its sights on punishing Namuganza for being Namuganza, we must yet again ponder. How did we get from unlawful land allocations to procured fraudulent marriages, to Namuganza being Namuganza? In the words of Minister Chris Baryomunsi, “When it comes to censuring a minister, there are more convincing and strong grounds, including convincing Ugandans on whether the minister should be censured or not, but not the quarrels between leaders.”
The writer is a tayaad muzzukulu