Parliament on Thursday paid tribute to veteran politician, the late Dr. Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere. He died on Friday at home in Lubaga and was laid to rest on Monday at his ancestral home in Nkumba, Wakiso District.
During a debate on a motion moved by Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, Members of Parliament eulogized the late Ssemogerere for his steadfast loyalty to the country, advocacy for equity, respect for rule of law, and human rights, among other qualities.
Ssemogerere, contested twice for the presidency, in 1980 and in 1996, losing both to Dr. Apollo Milton Obote and Yoweri Kaguta Museveni respectively. After a decade of service, he retired from active politics in 2005 but remained a senior figure in the opposition until his death.
He led the Democratic Party- DP for 25 years after replacing Benedicto Kiwanuka who was murdered in 1972. Dr. Ssemogerere handed over the party leadership to the late John Ssebana Kizito 2005, the former Kampala City Mayor.
Dr. Ssemogerere served as a Member of the Uganda Legislative Council between 1961 to 1962 and a Member of Parliament for North Mengo Constituency in the first Parliament of Uganda.
During the tributes, his portrait was displayed on the screens inside the parliament chambers.
Nabbanja, said that the late Ssemogerere was a particularly dedicated and dignified leader who immeasurably participated and contributed to shaping the pre and post-independence democratic governance and political leadership of Uganda.
She further described the late Ssemogerere as a firm advocate and promoter of democracy and one of those who contributed to constitutionalism in Uganda.
Nabbanja asked parliament to appreciate the service that Dr. Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere rendered to the Democratic Party and the people of Uganda and pass a resolution in his honor.
While seconding the motion, Medard Lubega Sseggona, the acting Leader of the Opposition recommended that the resolution moved by Nabbanja is amended to urge the government to name a befitting prime road in the memory and appreciation of the late Ssemogerere.
The Busiro East MP said that the death of Ssemogerere crowns 90 years of a solid character of loyalty to the country, a high level of integrity, a brilliant record of service to the public, a deep sense of nationalism, unshakeable faith in God, and unquestionable commitment to the motherland.
“His commitment to his country was critically underpinned by the understanding that beyond all manner of thought and idea, Uganda is bigger than any one individual or any institution. I recall with fondness that in 1993 he chaired the committee for the coronation of His Majesty Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, for which he was awarded a medal,” said Sseggona.
He told parliament that Ssemogerere was saddened at the increasing number of abductions and political intolerance in the country by state operatives, the growing authoritarianism and the country’s weak institutions, the assault on constitutionalism and rule of law, the uncertainty arising out of the debate on political succession, economic stagnation and the youth growth without assurance of a stable future.
Sseggona said that this is a far cry from Uganda the late Ssemogerere tirelessly worked for and applied himself for all his adult life.
“If any in his memory and honor, this is a renewed call for deliberate sacrifice on our part to deliver reforms to the electoral landscape and validate the legitimacy of the aspirations of our people to decide how they are led. To deliver equitable opportunity and services across the nation,” Sseggona appealed.
Nabbanja said that government will consider a proposal to name a road after the late Ssemogerere.
Cecilia Ogwal, Dokolo Woman MP said that she knew the late Ssemogerere as a Democratic Party member, a catholic Christian, a democrat, and an activist in the restoration of the country.
Ogwal appealed to the government not to wait for people like Ssemogerere to die for it to give them a glorious send-off.
James Baba Boliba, the Koboko County MP said that when Dr. Ssemogerere was a Minister of Foreign Affairs for a decade, he gave protection to Foreign Service officers.
“As a foreign service officer it is a very competitive job and when you join it, you hope to rise to the ambassadorial level from grade six to grade one. Dr. Ssemogerere as Minister protected this, so officers like me rose to become ambassadors and head missions. Now these aspirations of foreign service officers are almost dashed,” said Baba.
The former State Minister for Internal Affairs appealed to the government and the President to look into the issue of foreign officers being reduced to working in headquarters, as secretaries, and in other positions.
Richard Lumu, the Mityana South MP said that the late Ssemogerere was very incorruptible while Fortunate Rose Nantongo, the Kyotera Woman MP said that the veteran politician mentored youth.
Jimmy Akena, Lira East Division said that the last conversation he had with the late Ssemogerere was on the 1996 elections and he was questioning whether his father, former President Milton Obote totally supported his bid for the presidency.
“I assured him that the struggle for multi-party politics was forefront and it was clear that we don’t have to agree on everything but so long as the common ideal for a better Uganda is before us, we can work with anyone in whatever circumstance,” said Akena.
Akena, the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) President said that they are sure that his party won the 1980 presidential election fair and square and that contrary statements are just hearsay.
Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa appealed to MPs to emulate the late Ssemogerere’s efforts toward peace and reconciliation. He directed the Clerk to Parliament to extract the resolution made by parliament and avail it too the late Ssemogerere’s family.