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Munyagwa Mubarak Sserunga: On how he missed becoming an army general

“I will keep surprising Ugandans by delivering and not just exciting them”

Kampala, Uganda | AGNES E NANTABA | Munyagwa Mubarak Sserunga is the current chairperson of the committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE). He is also the Member of Parliament representing Kawempe South. Munyagwa is largely known for his comical character in activism that dates to as far as 2011 during the ‘Walk to Work’ protests against spiralling food and fuel prices in the country. He was among the politicians who were hauled up and jailed for allegedly holding unlawful protests and destabilising peace of Ugandans. At the time of the protests, Munyagwa had just joined elective politics as the Mayor of Kawempe division.

And after serving the five years as mayor, Munyagwa was elected to parliament. He says it was the long expected victory for someone who has longed to witness change of guard in Uganda’s political arena.

“I wanted to be part of the change movement,” says Munyagwa.

For this political journey, Munyagwa has associated himself with the comical, leading many to refer to him as a joker. He is often contrasted with Bugweri MP Abdul Katuntu whom he replaced. Munyagwa accepts the label but says it might be misleading.

“Many Ugandans take me to be terribly stupid because of how I branded myself,” he says, “(But) my party disproved many to point them to the fact that Munyagwa can conduct more serious business”.

For the greater part of his life, Munyagwa says, he has been daringly working towards his dream of becoming a military general. But as age catches up with him (he is in his 40s), the legislator has given up on the career path.

He says he was nine years old, while trekking through the bushes close to Kilembe mines in Kasese, western Uganda, he and his mother came close to an army parade commanded by Maj. Gen Fred Rwigyema. He was swept away by the saluting and respect that one man had from hundreds of soldiers. In admiration, he told his mother he would work hard to become a military general like Rwigyema. Even after returning home near the shores of Lake George where his parents worked in fish factories, Munyagwa kept thinking of his dream.

During his high school days at St Leo’s College Kyegobe, a fellow classmate of Rwandan origin announced his ambitions of starting a rebel group and capture parts of Congo after senior six exams. Munyagwa was one of those who welcomed the idea considering that in no time, he would attain the rank of military general. The move, however, fell through as him and others participated in a strike that saw them locked up in cells. This meant doing the final exams on police bond. Fear of being imprisoned after exams, Munyagwa escaped from the examination room before end of time.

“The results weren’t pleasant and when my father learnt of it, he jammed to pay my tuition on private sponsorship at Makerere University,” he says.

His father’s dreams of having a pharmacist in Munyagwa were shattered. Being born in Kampala and raised in western Uganda, Munyagwa thought of returning to Kampala to start a new life. He started part-time teaching as he enrolled for a second sitting at Nakasero Secondary School.

In 2001, he enrolled at Makerere University for a Bachelor of Science degree but couldn’t do much for lack of tuition. He switched the programme to an online study arrangement. He returned to Makerere enrolling for a degree in commerce but still dropped out in third year due to financial constraints. About the same time, Hajji Nasser Ssebaggala returned to Uganda and for lack of a job, Munyagwa joined the team to welcome him from the airport. This reignited his dream of becoming a military general and when Ssebaggala announced his candidature for the president, Munyagwa vowed to be part of the struggle.

Munyagwa says, “At that time, school was not on my agenda because I never thought that academic documents would be of any help”.

The dream was cut short when Ssebaggala was revealed to be on talking terms with President Museveni. To cut his losses, Munyagwa relocated to Kawempe to start a new life. He announced his political bid and emerged victorious in 2011 as Mayor representing Kawempe Division at Kampala Capital City Authority. And in 2016, he elevated his political position by being elected MP.

Munyagwa highlights challenges in his political career.

“The biggest challenge was having to fight against the amendment of Article 102 (b) in the constitution,” says Munyagwa, “Parliament attempted to oust an aged president something that took us through a lot more than we can reveal.”

And today as the chairperson of COSASE, Munyagwa vows to keep surprising Ugandans by delivering and not just exciting them.

Munyagwa completed primary level at Mahyoro Primary School, Kitagwenda High School for ordinary lever and Nakasero Secondary School for advanced level. He holds a diploma of Laws from LDC and is currently in third year pursuing a bachelor of laws from Makerere University.

Munyagwa Mubarak Sserunga’s Liteside

Any three things that we don’t know about you?

I am dependable; you can count on me when I take a decision. I don’t easily get scared and I am not taken up by materialistic things. I am satisfied with the little I have.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A moment in a health club relieves my mind of stress and renews my strength.

What is your greatest fear?

Life has pushed me to become fearless.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I don’t fear easily which lands me in big mistakes and trouble sometimes.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Hypocrisy is a no go zone for me.

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