A life of public service transcending three different governments themed the eulogy of Members of Parliament as they praised former Minister, Henry Kyemba for living an illustrious, conciliatory life.
His malleable personality, said MPs, saw him navigate through the most turbulent of times, saving lives under dangerous circumstances, which many said justified his need to work in one regime after another, because he was dedicated to the public interest and the protection of the vulnerable.
“Even when he was serving [former President] Idi Amin’s regime, he was saving lives like that of Smart Ogwang; that is what he is remembered for. I see some of you here trying to hide…please don’t; if there is something going wrong in this country, we are all cooked; it takes sober voices like that of Henry Kyemba to get things right,” said Hon. Abdu Katuntu (Indep.,., Bugweri County).
Hon. Katuntu praised Kyemba for his dedication to serve
This was during a special plenary sitting held on Tuesday, 24 October 2023 to pay tribute to the late Hon. Henry Kyemba, a minister in the Idi Amin and Museveni governments, and a senior public servant during the presidency of the late Apollo Milton Obote.
Kadaga moved the motion to honour former minister, Kyemba
First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs, Rt Hon. Rebecca Kadaga moved the tribute motion praising the late Kyemba as a distinguished statesman, an attribute Vice President, HE Jesca Alupo also assigned to the former Jinja West Member of Parliament.
“Kyemba was a firm advocate and promoter of democracy, good governance, peace, rule of law, respect for Human rights, access to justice for all and strengthening public administration, ideas he illustrated in his book ‘State of Blood’”, Kadaga said.
The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga praised Kyemba’s diligence saying the values by which he lived are presently needed.
“Kyemba would demonstrate early in life that there was a need to cede political space and pass on the mantle in good time when he chose to retire honorably; with a career under one’s arm dating as far back as independence in 1962 when he first joined public service, Kyemba’s life is a testament to the notion that public service is noble and he did tremendously well along the journey,” he said.
LOP, Mathias Mpuuga
In his characteristic poetic prose, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Hon. Nobert Mao said it is time to tone down the high octane politics in the country and ‘reconstitute’ the country following into the 84-year-old departed leader’s footsteps.
“In relation to the choices he made, we can only say…judge not that you may not be judged. He taught us how to be MPs; some of us came with the most unpopular messages [in our first entry to Parliament]; our country is hurting and needs reconciliation; let’s go back to the Constitution,” he said.
“There is a danger in this country that the past is being glorified and especially by those who never experienced it, let’s not open a war between the past and the present lest we lose the future,” he said.
The Third Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Rukia Nakadama said it is time to embrace the ‘mature politics’ that the late Kyemba practiced.
“Hon. Kyemba practiced mature politics…we should also continue practicing mature politics; common sense should be coming in at all times,” she said.
Hon. James Nsaba Buturo (NRM, Bufumbira County East) said the late Kyemba never lived for wealth, a trait he said hardly comes by these days.
“He belonged to that tradition of men who never believed in the accumulation of wealth. His character signature was an inspiration to all of us – a man of tremendous integrity, the kind of which we do not see these days,” he said.
In the House, he had numerous mentees, who said goodbye in very fond terms to their mentor.
One of them is Hon. Felix Okot Ogong (NRM, Dokolo South County).
“When I joined Parliament, I was mentored by the late because of his character, demeanor and his way of doing things. When you were around him, you would find peace and comfort,” he said.
Hon. Okot Ogong
Okot Ogong also said the late Kyemba epitomized compromise, a trait he urged all political sides to embrace.
To bring out his conciliatory attitude was a narration by Hon. James Baba (NRM, Koboko County).
He said the late Kyemba made some uncharitable remarks against him in Copenhagen, for which he sued, and was compensated to the tune of $14,000.
They later reconciled – on the late Kyemba’s initiative, burying the hatchet and remaining good friends.
Baba urged politicians to tread in the late Kyemba’s footsteps.
There will be special session of the Jinja City Council to honour Kyemba on Wednesday, 25 October 2023 before the burial on Thursday, 26 October 2023 in Jinja.