Kampala, Uganda | AGNES E. NANTABA | The Igara West Member of Parliament, Raphael Magyezi is the brain behind the controversial constitutional Amendment Bill No. 2 that was largely known as the Age Limit Bill. The bill was passed on December 20, and had the president assent to it on January 2, rendering it effectively amended to remove the presidential age limit caps.
This was more than a success story to Magyezi who received both praise and abuse for tabling the motion on September 27, 2017. Magyezi recalls being the focus of sermons by religious leaders and being called a traitor. But, he says, the day the Bill was passed was his happiest day.
“It is a big achievement not only for me but its implications on the country,” says Magyezi, “It rather opened the door to challenge Museveni and if Ugandans still want him”.
He maintains that while several opposition members gave him offers to withdraw the Bill, he stood his ground.
The Bill was challenged by the opposition and civil society activists, but the majority of MPs supported it. Several months on, it still invites debate.
Magyezi says he has been a man of big achievements and legacies even before joining parliament. He cites his role as general secretary of the Uganda Local Government Association that oversaw the establishment of ULGA House in Najjanankumbi, Kampala.
“I got to understand what it means to be simple yet effective but also benefitted from that mentorship which is not usual,” he says.
He took up the responsibility, even in other countries, as a trainer for decentralization, worked under the East African Local Government Association as the secretary general interfacing with heads of state on matters of decentralisation.
In 2010, Magyezi stood against then-minister of Disaster Preparedness, Tarsis Kabwegyere, and defeated him in the NRM party primaries and eventually in the general elections.
Magyezi says his political instincts stem from his childhood where he was always a leader – even among boys herding goats in rural western Uganda. He went on to captain school football teams, and was a prefect leader in the various schools he attended.
“That explains the basis for leadership in terms of schedule management but also believing there is opposition and proposition sides,” he says.
Magyezi is a middle child of the seven children of Raphael and Regina Tibaingana, both deceased. He was born in Kyamuhunga, Bushenyi district. He went to Kyamuhunga Primary School, Kitabi Minor Seminary, Nakawa National College of Business Studies and Makerere University among others. He has a bachelor’s degree in Statistics, Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Masters in Economic Policy and Planning and several other diplomas and certificates. He is married to Maureen Magyezi with whom they have three daughters.
Although he had been a member of the Ninth parliament where he chaired the Local Government Committee during which he made recommendations including having the Lord Mayor’s position run by the President, Magyezi remained largely unknown. In the same parliament, Magyezi brought a mission recommitting a motion by parliament to allow for press freedom enabling the media to enter the chambers. But from September 2017, when he tabled the controversial age-limit amendment, his name scarcely missed the front pages and main bulletins. He became the topic of discussion on social media platforms. He says he did it to save the future generations.
Raphael Magyezi’s Liteside
Any three things that we don’t know about you?
I studied philosophy in which I have a first class degree. So if some people say that I am stupid, then we need to get down to the books and take them on anything because I am highly exposed. I wasn’t raised in leisure and luxury so coming from such a background and making it to parliament is not an easy job. It rather means I take myself seriously. Something else that defines me is the resilience; the abuses I received wouldn’t be taken in by any other person if not for resilience. I kept my cool and realised that a calm and good response silences many.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being satisfied with what God grants. You can have a simple and happy life at any level. It comes with realising who you are, knowing your potential, and exploiting it.
What is your greatest fear?
A spider once bit me so I still recall the experience. It’s one thing I fear the most.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
What keeps cropping up naturally as a human being is intolerance. For instance if you abuse me, I want to fight back. The failure to tolerate an opposing view is a trait within so many individuals just like me but I am trying hard to overcome it.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Anything that has to do with telling lies causes mistrust.
Which living person do you most admire?
Kofi Annan came in as a black African to lead UN and delivered, kept his head high and even after leaving office, the UN still gives him assignments.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I want my children to have the best education but that doesn’t mean spoiling them. Aas a politician, my biggest expenditure is in the constituency.
What is the greatest thing you have ever done?
Construction of the ULGA House was one of the boldest things that I took on. We were previously renting and being thrown out every time. So I took a task to have our own premises but it wasn’t easy. I convinced the executive and managed to pull it off with the support of other people and organisations.
What is your current state of mind?
I am happy.
What does being powerful mean to you?
Being powerful means creating a difference in people’s lives. I have come to realise that a person whose legacy stays is one who has made a difference in people’s lives. It means moving society by your actions or words.
On what occasion do you lie?
If it happens, it is not an intended lie.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Which living person do you most despise?
My dislike is generally the African leadership; especially those who have had the opportunity to make change and have not. You cannot preside over a community that is still seen as the worst with the good climate and resources that we have, the resilient population and so much more.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
The beauty of a woman lies in behavior and character.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Being a decision maker, respect for family in the sense of taking people as people and trying to bring out the best in them. A man should also be hardworking.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
I love my family.
When and where were you happiest?
My wedding to Maureen in 1994 is one to remember. My victory in politics; especially in 2011 was sweet because I had so many people who encouraged me to push on. The biggest was last year, the night we left parliament convinced that it was done with the age limit having defeated the togikwatako team.
Which talent would you most like to have?
In school, I was playing basketball and much as my height wasn’t that good, it gave me an advantage as my opponents underrated me. However, at this age, I want to be a better farmer.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I ask God to leave me as I am.
Where would you most like to live?
Uganda is my home.
What is your most treasured possession?
If you want to annoy me, touch my family because when everything fails, I can always run back to them.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Death of a mother; it was a very low moment for me when I lost my mother Regina Tibaingana in May 2008.
What is your favourite occupation?
I worked as a statistician and planner for Mukono district. It was my first and best assignment in the sense that I had nowhere to make my reference for planning but initiated a development plan for the district and got a standing ovation from the council. The job allowed for my creativity and enabled me ride over serious challenges.
What do you most value in your friends?
Their love and care.
Who are your favorite writers?
It’s rare that you see me following up on individual writings. I like reading material which prove the case that you can move from A to B. I like to read Fred Muhumuza’s writings.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
The late Cardinal Nsubuga did a lot for the church, in terms of social development and giving direction to the country. In the different areas, his name comes up and teaches us that you can leave a legacy behind that stands the test of time even without being a politician.
How would you like to die?
I wish to stay here but the time will come when I have to go. I would wish to go in my dreams.
What is your motto?