The year 2021 has come to an end. There are many Ugandans who have made this country proud and several others have brought shame to the nation. Many women have proved that leadership is not a preserve for men alone and have therefore excelled in areas they have been posted. In this briefing, we reveal the top most women whose work in 2021 has put a permanent stone not only on national development but also human prosperity. READ ON
For the first time in history, president Yoweri Museveni has taken some rest arising from the calm situation his cabinet is transacting business. In the past, ministers were fond of fighting each other and this affected service delivery. In the immediate former cabinet, the prime minister Ruhakana Rugunda faced challenges mediating cliques in cabinet arising from intense infighting. For example, he was always faced with the fights within agriculture ministry especially between ministers Joy Kabatsi vs Vincent Ssempijja. There was also that fight in lands and ICT between Idah Nantaba vs Persis Namuganza, Betty Amongi vs Persis Namuganza among others. These went on until the whole term of government elapsed.
Even in this cabinet, such cracks had started to emerge with minister Hillary Onek vs PM Robinah Nabbanja. Their feud threatened to tear up cabinet but thanks to Alupo’s skill in conflict resolution, she summoned both of them to her office and mediated them. To date, no such fights continue at least in public domain. She didn’t stop at that, but also went ahead to summon all top leaders from her Teso sub region and rallied them for unity. We were informed at the time, there had been rumors that some opportunists were trying to fan hatred between Itesots and their longtime sub-tribemates, the Kumams.
The opportunists want Kumams to breakaway from Iteso something that could result into fierce insecurity in the area. She therefore, called a meeting attended by ministers, deputy speaker and senior army officers to rally them for unity of purpose.
In fact, among colleagues in cabinet, Alupo is fondly refered to as a ‘comeback queen’. It is derived from the fact that none of them expected her to return with a bang to cabinet after five years into political oblivion especially when she lost her MP seat in 2016.
“Most people including major media houses had written her off after she was hounded out of cabinet. But she bounced back with a loudest bang claiming the VP position when no body gave her a chance. In all speculations none of them gave her that post although she was always mentioned among MPs to return to cabinet” says Isha Otto of UPC.
Besides this, Alupo is said to be the only Teso lady without drama around her. Her appointment as VP was such an achievement that, it also somehow broke an unwritten tradition that the VP post was a Buganda affair.
She’s is the first female Prime minister in the history of Uganda. She has broken a tradition that the premier is a position for office lovers. She’s the first none diplomatic premier going to the trenches unlike her predecessors who were armchair premiers. In fact, she’s the poster child of fisherman’s cabinet. For example recently, at Ggalilaaya sub-county in Bbaale-Kayunga, she brought out the true picture of a fisherman when she was spotted in a canoe being rowed across the river to reach out to voters who were displaced by floods. She has broken the NRM tradition of sending facilitation without actual works on the ground having coined the model of following the money and seeing it’s actual value like we saw in Kayunga by-election, Kasese blankets saga, Covid mosquito nets at Kalerwe among others.
It’s for this reason that many who were used to the former comfort seeking approach are now seeing her as a weird villager. In a nutshell, Nabbanja has taken the prime Minister’s position back to the people. Incidentally, even the opposition views her in equal measure which shows what a balanced performer she is before the wanainchi.
Anita Annet Among alias 3As among pals is the deputy speaker of Parliament and also woman MP Bukedea. Recently, she added on a title of ‘Maama Busoga’ now that she breathes on the same oxygen with Budiope East MP Moses Magogo.
That aside, Anita took everyone by storm when she resoundingly won the position of deputy speaker of Parliament in May this year. Her performance was even far better than that of her boss Jacob Oulanyah. Her performance in this position has also brought smiles on the lips of MPs as she is seen as a moderate speaker. Many legislators from across the political divide have benefited from her versatile nature of work and has seen many through various situations. She is regular on functions and her attendance on such functions is always punctuated with generous donations. We are now informed she’s handling a very sensitive assignment for the man from Rwakitura and that so far, so good.
So powerful she is, that Museveni had to personally plead with individual MPs on phone to vote the NRM candidate for speaker. Museveni delayed releasing cabinet list because he needed Kadaga around and see how to equitably rehabilitate Kadaga. She’s also the reason Mbabazi is still a mere special envoy like Buchaman who’s Museveni’s special envoy on ghetto affairs. She’s also a super minister whose main task locally is to groom and embolden Nabbanja; her long time close disciple. At same time, she safeguards Uganda’s interests in the EAC.
Eng. Ziria Tibalwa Waako and Dr. Sarah Wasagali
For a long time, power had been one of the major impedements of trade and also one of the major drivers of public apathy towards Museveni government. However, it’s commendable that under the leadership of this noble woman Eng. Ziria Tibalwa Waako and board chairperson, the amiable Dr. Sarah Wasagali; ERA is restoring sanity in the power sector by putting a human face to the hitherto ugly power tarrifs. While in the recent past industrialists have seen production power tarrifs greatly reduced, the highlight of the year has been the introduction of a pro-people project that caters exclusively for domestic and institutional power users. Deliberate low rates have been designed to cater for cooking for both domestic and institutional cooking such as in homes, health centers, schools, prisons among others. The beauty is that on top of helping users save money, this innovation by these two powerful ladies will help save the environment especially with figures pointing to massive deforestation as people hunt for firewood and charcoal as fuel for cooking. No wonder, at the African continent level, ERA was voted the best regulator out of a whopping 43 countries that were appraised for this award of excellence. Incidentally, ERA is winning this award for the fourth straight year exactly the same period Eng. Ziria Tibalwa has spent at the helm of this now super agency. The same ladies have seen ERA get a new state of the art home after years of squeezing staff at the former ERA house which was small.
The small-bodied lady from Busaana in Kayunga, makes to this list for achieving the extraordinary feat of proving the magic and magicians in Uganda’s politics. It is because of Nakwedde that probably all what was hidden by the social media blackout in the previous general election came to light. She exposed the hitherto hidden NRM vote rigging tactics that up to now, the world is still debating Kayunga by-election. Nakwedde proved that elections in Uganda are a matter of life and death and can defeat all the laws of logic, mathematics and reason due to the force that was deployed on her candidature and the miraculous manner in which her hitherto clear victory evaporated in a game of numbers and figures. The now glaring scars on her cheeks are proof that the country has since lost its soul given the social media banter that implied that she was faking injury with huge bandages even when she was clearly in pain. We are actually told that ever since her shocking loss, Nakwedde suffers nightmares of people taking her to the EC to claim her victory which seems to have gotten stuck in the commission’s computers.
This one needs no introduction. She is the woman making the Balokole church leaders tearing themselves apart. Pastor Bugingo recently threw away his wife Naluswa claiming all sorts of ugly things against her. He decided to get close to Susan Makula and ended up going to her parents’ home in what was termed as Kwanjula. However, the ceremony has turned controversial and is now in court. Whether true not Bugingo introduced her, Makula has captured airwaves as a woman with power to make pastors appear to be getting some doze from Satan to deceive and deny. None the less, her beauty has earned her a right to confuse pastors and appear to be possessed.
In August 2021, Kagingo was appointed as the Principal Press Secretary of the Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah. News of her appointment excited many on social media and several organisations including the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) issued statements commending Oulanyah for signing one of the country’s Public Relations and Commmunications mavens. A big brand in her own right from Makerere University days, where she served as a Students’ Guild President, Kagingo who is credited for digitizing President Museveni’s communications and bridging the information gap between the Presidency and the people, especially the youth, has quickly endeared Speaker Oulanyah to many owing to her timely updates of the Speaker’s agenda and activities, but mostly due to her non-confrotational approach to responding to critical views. Between 2011 and 2015, she served as Special Presidential Assistant for Communication and in 2015 founded Soft Power Communications LLC, a Public Relations firm, and Soft Power News, one of the most authoritative news sites. Between 2018 – 2020, she served as the President of the Public Relations Association of Uganda (PRAU). The passionate communicator of Uganda’s tourism is renowned for positive stories about the country and has won several awards from the tourism sector.
The former woman MP for Alebtong has a special attribute in her which president Museveni knows himself and is not willing to reveal to anyone. The president keeps telling his Strategists that ‘she’s (Otengo) doing a good job for me’. This is the reason he has kept her as Uganda’s ambassador to Ethiopia and African Union. She has played a big role for Museveni and we are informed the president these days spends less time stressing himself with the affairs of AU and IGAD thanks to the hard work of Otengo. He has since reappointed her in that position.
When the general election ended, Museveni sat in his office. He started making calls to his men to find out which minister had survived especially in Buganda. He was told none of them made it. And yet, he had a huge task to handle in parliament. The task was about election of speaker of Parliament which then speaker Rebecca Kadaga wanted to reclaim. Somehow, Museveni got a brief that Kadaga saw Nankabirwa as her major enemy in her bid and therefore was all smiles upon hearing that she had lost her MP seat. When Museveni got wind of this, he called Nankabirwa aside and asked her to accept to swallow all jabs coming from Kadaga and her camp. In this game, Nankabirwa was playing a game (decoy) whereby, Kadaga concentrated on her and her activities. In so doing, Museveni was able to freely infiltrate Kadaga camp and deployed her close pal Robinah Nabbanja to properly spy on the lady from Kamuli. Kadaga didn’t suspect this and continued to trust her team which also continued to hit Nankabirwa. At the end of the day, Kadaga and her camp were properly spied on and eventually, she lost. Museveni later appointed Nabbanja as prime minister and during her swearing-in at Kololo, he let the cat out of the bag saying Nabbanja had done a good job for him on matters relating to parliament administration. She was taking info to him.
Therefore, although many ministers who lost their MP seats were ditched from cabinet, Nankabirwa survived the knife and she was posted in the lucrative ministry for energy and mineral development. She has however, performed well there.
Jane Ruth Aceng
She’s the minister for health. Also better known as Maama Corona, Aceng has excelled in keeping the country updated on matters of good health in respect of coronavirus. She is also rated among those political new comers having taken a step to quit her technical work and joined politics. The shortcomings about corona notwithstanding, Aceng can’t be swept under the carpet when it comes to best female achievers of the ending year.
Nnaabagereka Sylvia Nagginda
The Buganda queen is no doubt a clear testimony of a true wife. When Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi faced hard times of ill health this year, the Nnaabagereka stood firm and kept close to her hubby despite many attacks by some ill-intentioned people. She has kept silent and remained steadfast in keeping the royal family intact. The Kabaka is now back on full form steering the kingdom as usual, something which has brought smiles on faces of Buganda kingdom loyalists.
The woman MP for Kampala district is more known as NUP lawyer than the MP seat she holds. She is the legal force behind the popular phrase of ‘FREE POLITICAL PRISONERS’. She has been on the forefront of fighting for the rights of several NUP youths who have been detained.
Justice Esther Kisakye
The supreme court judge also made headlines when it came to the time of delivering a ruling on the election petition challenging president Museveni victory. The judge shocked the world when she came out and accused her boss CJ Owiny Dollo for allegedly stealing her ruling because it was giving a dissenting opinion. None the less, her actions exposed the judiciary and portrayed it as an extension of the executive.
Brig. Flavia Byekwaso
The UPDF spokesperson hits on this list as the most favored female mouthpiece the army has ever had. She has tried to play the role of a spokesperson and also act as a mother to convince youths from taking to the streets to riot. In that way, it has reduced unnecessary confrontations between the army and the wanainchi. In fact, within NUP activists, every time Byekwaso came out on TV to speak, many of their comrades chickened out on their radical stance against the government. That her lips are a combination of juice and bitter lemon which keeps confusing some of them.
In March year, she was the first lady to undertake a fact finding mission in Busoga to find out why Busoga this time denied Museveni votes. Museveni lost in eight districts of Busoga out of the 11 districts and even those three he won, it was a small margin. The voters voted for NUP candidate Robert Kyagulanyi. Therefore, even as other leaders feared to step in Busoga to investigate the loss, stormed the area shortly after elections. She made an Intel after interacting with various groups including youths. So lethal she is; that the soft spoken Mutyabule went directly in popular NUP strongholds and carried out this investigation. Her report was given to Museveni and it is on that basis that even the NRM secretariat later sent it’s teams to do more research on the mess. Among Basoga, the name Mutyabule is common and she’s now refered to as ‘Maama Nutrition’ given the fact that as a Senior Presidential Advisor, she is currently involved in initiatives aimed at improving on people’s income and feeding.
The minister for presidency cannot be forgotten on this list. Having held no political elective office, many people thought she was bound to make mistakes, mistakes and more mistakes when she was appointed minister for presidency. However, she has proved that she can do wonders. She has reorganized the various offices under her docket through numerous retooling initiatives. Among those includes RDC and presidential advisors. In fact, for the first time in history, presidential advisors had a retreat courtesy of Babalanda.
However, her alleged shortcomings are mainly on the way she engages NRM historicals who visit her office.
Mercy Chelangat, Jean Sseninde, Halima Nakaayi and Nannyondo
These are athletes who have made Uganda proud. They brought various medals to the country.
Barbra Nekesa Oundo
The NRM national treasurer is also the immediate former ambassador to South Africa. The gorgeous Oundo has been at the helm of NRM perse and so far, she’s rated among the best crop of leaders the party has has. In fact, those who work at the secretariat suggest that thanks to Oundo, cases of financial malnutrition among staff are now mild. She is however, reported to be stingy and will at least miss a day in her office hunting for a Shs500 coin in case she lost it in her car or house. This shows how Oundo is keen on matters of accountability for every coin that reaches the secretariat coffers!
Her real name is Sylivia Namutebi. This female herbalist comes on this list due to her generosity. The effect of lockdown on the incomes of many Ugandans was negative. This prompted many to try other avenues for survival. Among these was a man called Ssekitooleko who tried his luck in the Olympics. He went to Japan to participate but upon reaching there, he vanished. A manhunt for him ensued and he was deported. Efforts to detain him started but a group of activists including Maama Fina came out to plead for him. This is a man who had a pregnant wife and he was threatened with eviction from his rented room due to accumulated rent dues. Maama Fina came to his rescue and gave him some start up capital plus a bike to do boda bodas business.