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Opinion: Recalling Speaker Anita Among’s quest to become great

BY MISAIRI THEMBO KAHUNGU

“There comes a time, when we heed a certain call”. These words bring out the appeal in the song titled USA for Africa. The song written by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson was performed decades ago but it still carries a lot of meaning to people who want to contribute to useful causes.

I am writing these words in honour of a woman who I first saw in July, 2012 when she heed to a certain call in Kasese District. This woman, is the Speaker of Parliament, Rt Hon Anita Annet Among.

Speaker of Parliament, Rt Hon Anita Annet Among.

Having lost her bid to become the Bukedea District woman representative on Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) ticket, the flamboyant, Anita Among had a role to play as Winnie Kiiza wrestled her way back to Parliament in a hotly contested by-election on August 12, 2012.

Among, a woman with valour took over as Kiiza’s driver during the campaigns and indeed, she gave police a silky tour of the streets of Kasese on the nomination day as there were attempts to block the FDC procession.

The then deputy national treasurer, wrote her name in the books of people considered “special forces”  in pull and push politics of Kasese. She closely stuck in the minds of the FDC fraternity in Kasese just behind Dr Kizza Besigye, Maj Gen (Rtd) Mugisha Muntu and Sadiq Amin (son to Idi Amin) who had played a tremendous role in the by-elections. 

Efforts were there to raise funds locally to buy land for the trio seen as the heroes for that exercise but, Among to me was an unsung heroin.  A soft speaking woman who in the later stages of the campaigns joined in deploying tricks to “guard against rigging plans”. She would later become a frequent visitor to Kasese.

Among, made many friends that she would meet physically and others on the then only popular social network Facebook. I for one, enjoyed a close relationship especially via Facebook and frequently had chats on both politics and local business environment.

The woman I am talking about became a proxy friend through Winnie Kiiza her close pal during their golden times at Najjanankumbi, the FDC headquarters.

In the FDC circles she was called “General” Anita because of her approach to police tricks to dispense the party gatherings in the early stages of implementing the Public Order Management Act. 

I am writing about the making of the Speaker, a woman who once told me that the legal battle at the East African Court Justice was just a test of what a determined woman she was.

Speaker Annita Annet Among in her office at Parliament.

She was challenging the process through which the nine representatives of Uganda to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) were elected in Parliament.  Among, the FDC candidate who lost the opposition slot to DP and UPC had issues with the criteria used in the process.

“Thembo my friend, this case is just the beginning of the many things I want to achieve in my life” said Among.

The woman who to me manifested herself as  a go-getter, was chatting with me one Sunday night as I turned discs in a Sunday night shift on Kasese Guide Radio. I am a Journalist who turned to print media after 13 years as a radio presenter. 

Though the Court did not decided in Among’s favour on all the issues put before it, she still smiled to the bank walking away with a quarter of the taxed costs.

Also in our usual chats with the then “General” Anita, we discussed football and she said that Bukedea will not only bring her up as a great politician but the eastern District must have a seat on soccer’s high table.

The name we discussed is none other than Uganda Cranes striker Emmanuel Okwi. “The home boy from Bukedea will be great”. Who has not seen Okwi move up the ranks to become national soccer team’s Captain?

Anita Among, has since turned a political corned beginning from the 2016 campaigns when she decided to quit FDC to run as an independent candidate and finally knocked the then Internal Affairs Minister, Rose Akol off the peddle.

She would then be appointed by the FDC as Abdu Katuntu deputy on the leadership of the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE).

The Committee’s signature role was the investigations into Bank of Uganda’s sale and closure of seven commercial banks including tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia’s Crane Bank.

The leadership of COSASE the accountability Committee that is most adored by the Parliamentary press might have made her more friends and connections. She would then cross to the National Resistance Movement (NRM) and won the primary elections in 2020 before winning the Bukedea District woman MP seat unopposed. 

Currently, social media and mainstream media has carried photos of the Speaker shaking hands with Pope Francis. She did not only shake hands with the Pontiff but also held a one-on-one meeting with him in the Holy See. 

Speaker Anita Annet Among shaking hands with Pope Francis.

Sharing on this blessing from the head of the Catholic Church is my former Daily Monitor workmate Dominic Bukenya who has since revealed that he was interceding for the ailing grandmother in Masaka. 

A great woman (who would have wanted to become Speaker in 2031 had it not been for the death of her friend Jacob Oulanyah) has had the chance to meet the Pontiff twice in two capacities within 12 months. 

Her carefully chosen words after receiving the blessings from the Pope in the Holy See, show that the Speaker renewing her commitment to making 11th Parliament a success.

‘’Your Holiness, I thank you for your continued blessings from when I came here in August 2021 after being elected Deputy Speaker, and now Speaker of Parliament. I pledge to remain steadfast in the values of the Catholic church, “reads part of her quote.

Speaker having a nice moment with Pope Francis.

The last time I engaged with the Speaker was in  2015 when she asked me about Christopher Kibanzanga’s decision to the NRM, the first time a defecting opposition politician was made to swear by the bible never to veer off the ruling party truck. 

As a parting shot for this article, I have this message to the woman from Teso.

Prophet Isaiah in Chapter 40:31 writes about leaders being steadfast; “But those who wait on the Lord, shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

After promising that the second session of the 11th Parliament is for running but not walking in terms of pursuing the legislative agenda, I pray that you fly and land into the 12th Parliament with greatness.

The writer is a Parliamentary reporter

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