INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE: FORMER VICE CHANCELLOR KATUSIIME BEGINS CONSULTATIONS FOR SHEEMA MUNICIPALITY SEAT
By Dr. Katusiimeh Misharch
In Sheema Municipality—-
I have decided to begin formal consultations in relation to the Sheema Municipality MP slot. This is a decision I have carefully thought about after analyzing the general trends of things in Sheema. Politics is a collective game. It is not just about individual interest. Politics is about working with people and championing their interests. Even though politics has always interested me, it is only a few days back that I realized that like-minded people think I am best suited to lead the cause of unity, development and transformation of Sheema Municipality at this particular time.
Friends, allow me to take you through my background. I humbly ask you to be patient and read. Ignore the typos.
Beloved, I started becoming active in Sheema politics at the age of 16 in my senior four vacation (1993/94). I remember walking long distances to listen to speeches of aspiring candidates to represent Sheema North Constituency and Rwampara County Constituency. The race between Sir Richard Kaijuka and George Mugisha aka Kyalimanya was hot just like that one between the late Eriya Kategeya and Francis Butagira in Rwampara and that one of Dr. Adonia Tiberondwa and Amanya Mushega. My interest in politics was aroused and I have never looked back and that is why I have been very active in the politics of Uganda and Sheema in particular in one way or another.
Throughout my campus times at Makerere University, I was very active in Sheema politics and community affairs. I was Vice Chairperson of Sheema University Students Association and for those who may recall, we tried to instill values of openness, integrity, transparency and accountability in students associations during our time. It was because of the values we championed that I got in touch and became friends with key personalities in Sheema notably Sir Richard Henry Kaijuka; Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu (who was our Patron); Dr. William William Tsimwa Muhairwe and later Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye and many other dignatories. During that time we organized various things including tree planting; sensitization seminars in Sheema schools and beyond. We also presented papers on topical issues. It was during that time that I became confident in my leadership abilities.
At Makerere University, we started the Nganwa High School Old Students Association (NOSA) and became the First General Secretary and later elevated to the position of Chairperson NOSA. We organized career guidance seminars and other talks for the benefit of NHS students; we volunteered to teach at Nganwa High School among many other things. It is no wonder that the peak times (1998 – 2001) for Nganwa High School in terms of academic performance coincided with a very active students association.
Immediately after university I was identified by Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye to work as a General Secretary in 2001 Elect Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye Task force. I think the Chairperson was Mr. Yese Mubangizi and the committee had the likes of Mr. Munooni, Mr. Manzi; Mr. Aine. Mr. Richard MuhangiMuhangi and others. I worked with dedication and participated in the drafting of the manifesto for the development of Sheema North. It was probably because of my active participation in the Sheema North electoral victory of Hon Elioda Tumwesigye that he rewarded me with a fat job at the Uganda Health Financing Association as Executive Secretary – a job I declined. I declined it because I had already made up my mind to pursue the academic career having had been appointed a Teaching Assistant at Makerere University and at Uganda Christian University.
When I joined the teaching profession at Uganda Christian University and Makerere University, I continued being close to students and active in their associations. Mr. Abel Kahara Kahara, Ambrose Akampurira Ambrose Kahara and others will recall that I was patron of the first ever Sheema University Students Association UCU Chapter. I have supported other students Association notably Kyambogo University Students Association (KYUSSA) and SUSA at Makerere University. was also part and parcel of the first executive committee that was fundraising for the Ankole Western University Project around 2003-2005. I was part of the Finance Committee with the likes of Mrs Kandigoma and Darius Asiimwe who was our Chairperson.
Ladies and gentlemen, you now realize that my involvement in politics and community affairs has not started recently. I have tried to be consistent in whatever I am doing save for a few years when i enrolled for my doctorate studies in the Netherlands. While in the Netherlands (2008-2012), I noted one issue that was lagging behind in Sheema – the academic standards of our schools were declining at a very fast rate. I remember engaging our MPs at the time as to why this was so. When I completed my PhD, I decided to devote my time to improving the standards of our schools. Besides starting Rwebiita Preparatory School, we started a campaign to save public schools. Since that time, I have visited many government aided primary schools in Sheema and beyond and the theme of my talks has been to advise public schools to try to borrow and implement some private management sector styles of leadership. This campaign is still on and it needs us all to get involved to save our public schools from collapse.
Before I leave the education sector, my involvement in reviving our government aided secondary schools is well documented. We tried to devote most of our time to the revival of Nganwa High School and drummed up efforts for the revival of Masheruka Secondary School.The likes of Medard Muhwezi, Herbert Mugumya, Guma Richard and others. We mobilized OBs and OGs, the foundation body and government. I am happy to note that these schools have emerged from crisis and now doing well thanks to a well streamlined administration and other governance bodies. We have worked with the government and Ministry of Education to uplift the standards of these schools.
Over the past few years, I have also been active on Social media, The Sheema District page that I started around 2011 or so while doing my PhD in the Netherlands is a case in point. This was the first group page that brought together all Banyasheema at home and in the diaspora to contribute ideas towards the development of Sheema and the whole country at large. We have tried to administer it with fairness and openness. It is through this page that revealed the potential of so many Banyasheema. When Whatsapp emerged, Sheema facebook group provided a starting point to the emergence of a multitude of so many Sheema whatsapp groups including the main Abanyasheema page that I started with the likes of Herbert Mugumya, Gilbert Ekanya Gilbert and many others. It is clear over the last few years that social media has been used to get people together for development initiatives. Sheema Development Association (SDA) emerged out of the need for face to face conversations instead of only relying on facebook and to some extent whatsapp to debate affairs concerning Sheema.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is clear that the main interest of people of Sheema Municipality lies in the development of Ankole Western University. It appears a big section of residents and those who work in Sheema Municipality and beyond think I can be helpful to the university by tapping on my mobilization capabilities to mobilize resources for the university at a bigger level than I am doing now as Vice Chancellor. That I will find time to write proposals, to visit embassies, to mobilize friends of the university to support AWU including linking up with government and other agencies to support the university. The point here is who among the candidates is generally well placed to prioritize Ankole Western University something that has not happened of recent times. The role of an MP of Sheema Municipality is to coordinate such efforts. This side of the debate is what has persuaded me to carry out more consultations with other candidates and their supporters to find out who is better placed to support Ankole Western University at this moment in time when AWU needs more resources than before. I hear arguments that I am a good administrator at AWU and my time has led to progress in so many sectors. I thank God for that. But sitting at AWU may not generate enough resources that the university needs. The resources will be generated as a result of the networking abilities of the outside players and a Member of Parliament plays a fundamental role.
Unity of Banyasheema is so fundamental to the development of Sheema. One of the challenges we are facing as Banyasheema is that we are disunited. It seems as if we have invested our energies in undermining each other than promoting each other. We need to focus on unity that we all deserve. One of the sensitive issues we are facing is religion. I am a victim of the religious differences in Uganda and I have tried my level best to ensure harmony for all the religious groups. Never again should we find ourselves in such religious turmoil again. Leaders matter in solving such. At the height of Muslims agitating for compensation from government as a result of loss of their loved ones and property, I played a leading role behind the scenes to ensure that the Muslims were compensated. I held meetings with Hon Prof Tarsis Kabwegyere that ensured harmony and unity of Banyasheema for this cause. Behind the scenes, I counselled groups of Christians who felt they were unfairly treated by government during the process of identifying the ring leaders of the 1979 crisis and I am happy to note that people have accepted to move on and forget their differences.
It is against this background that I organized a Dialogue – a first of its kind in Sheema that was held in 2016 at Sunbeach hotel. It featured presentations by speakers from the academia, politicians, students, religious leaders and representatives from Civil Society Organizations after which there was an open plenary for the audience to participate. The topic was: Religion as a Sword and a Shield in Uganda’s Politics: a Case of Greater Bushenyi District. Such questions were answered: Has religion been a constructive or destructive force in Greater Bushenyi District? Does it matter what religious tradition one professes provided they believe in God? At what point (if any) should a line be drawn between religion and politics? I will keep promoting such dialogues.
Friends, I can write and write and write but what I can assure you is that I have Sheema at heart. Sheema Municipality being the heart of Sheema, I will endeavour to tell people to entrust me with the responsibility to champion its unity and development.
Source: www.mknewslink.com a greater western Uganda news website