President Museveni, Legislators Pay Tribute to Late Hon Maria Mutagamba
President Yoweri Museveni today alongside other legislators at Parliament paid last respects to former minister, the late Hon Maria Mutagamba.
Mutagamba, who served as Rakai Woman MP from 2001 to 2016, passed away last week on Saturday, after succumbing to cancer of the liver at Case Hospital in Kampala.
President Museveni made a brief stop at Parliament shortly after midday today, where he paid his last respects to the fallen minister, who served in his government as Tourism minister, as well as Water and Environment minister.
He laid a wreath on the coffin of the deceased, and after signed a condolence book.
The President briefly met the family of Mutagamba in a private meeting at Parliament, then later left to attend a campaign rally for the NRM flag bearer in the Kyadondo East by-election race.
Parliament then held a special sitting in the afternoon, where the Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda moved a motion to pay tribute to the minister.
In his motion, Dr. Rugunda described her as patriotic leader whose example of cooperating with people across the political divide should be emulated by other leaders.
During the debate, the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga revealed that the late Hon Mutagamba had confided in family members that she felt abandoned by government during her moment of sickness.
Kadaga revealed that she learnt of the minister’s sickness during the State of the Nation address. Days later, Kadaga said she was approached by Soroti municipality MP, Herbert Ariko, accompanied by Mutagamba’s daughter, telling her that the former MP’s health had worsened.
The Speaker then met with the President to offer support towards efforts to have Mutagamba flown out of the country for specialized treatment.
“She did not know where to go to get support. That’s the question we all have. She was not in office, so what does a Ugandan do when they have no backing of the ministry or the joint medical board? I wish we could find a solution” Kadaga said.
However, Dr. Rugunda said the President had provided funds to fly her out to India for treatment and government had cleared all her medical bills.
The Speaker wondered when government would bring legislation on the Health Insurance scheme, to which Dr. Rugunda said the bill awaits a certificate of financial implication before it is tabled in Parliament.
Busiro East MP, Hon Medard Ssegona said Mutagamba helped to push for water extension projects and youth empowerment programmes in his constituency.
Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities described her as a servant leader who left a mark in all the capacities she served in government.
“There was almost a riot in the Ministry of Water when Mutagamba was reshuffled to the Ministry of Tourism. By the time she left the ministry, there was almost another riot. Wherever she served, she distinguished herself from others,” Prof. Kamuntu said.
Sembabule Woman MP, Anifa Kawooya recalled Mutagamba’s love for the Catholic religion that she always convinced those from other religions, including Muslims, to visit Christian sites including Israel.
“She was so religious that she dragged me to Israel, where we went to River Jordan and I was dipped in there. But I am perturbed by my government. At what stage does it come in to help its senior cadres?” she questioned in regard to medical help extended to Mutagamba.
Mary Karoro Okurut, the State Minister in charge of general duties, said Mutagamba never pushed her brilliance down people’s throats and never boasted yet she held a first class degree. She further said the former minister always put the interest of others before her own.
“She was measured, self-respecting and disrespectful of people who had bad manners. It is very important that before people can respect you, you can respect yourself first. In cabinet, she walked the extra mile and would call and ask if her colleagues were okay,” Karoro recalled.
Rukungiri Woman MP, Winnie Matsiko said Mutagamba was a key advocate for affirmative action for women, which is now enshrined in the Constitution.
Kitgum Municipality MP, Beatrice Anywar further said the minister’s effort to engender government policies was proof that she ensured that girls and women benefitted from government programmes.
Kira Municipality MP, and acting Leader of Opposition, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, said even though Mutagamba crossed from the Democratic Party (DP) to NRM, she remained one who did not engage in dirty politics and intrigue.
“Mutagamba never got her hands dirty with politics of intrigue and deceit. May those colleagues on the other side, especially who crossed not very long ago, learn from this astute lady and take their newfound love with caution. Avoid burning the bridges that helped them to be identified as potential recruits,” he said.
Mutagamba will be buried tomorrow
Wednesday at her ancestral home in Gamba village, Kakuuto in Rakai district.