Parliament has paid tribute to the late Dr Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere, a veteran politician, praising him for his unincumbered service and advocacy for democracy in the country.
Ssemogerere died on Friday 18, November 2022 aged 90 years at his home in Lubaga, a suburb of Kampala.
He served as the leader of the Democratic Party for 25 years, one of the oldest political parties in the country.
While presenting her motion in tribute to the late Ssemogerere, the Prime Minister, Hon. Robinah Nabbanja, stated that he served as the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament from 1980 to 1985.
He was also the Minister for Internal Affairs; Second Deputy Prime Minister; Minister for Foreign Affairs; and Minister for Public Service. Dr Ssemogerere also unsuccessfully contested for Presidency twice in 1980 and 1996.
Hon. Medard Sseggona (NUP, Busiro County East), in the secondment of the motion, proposed to name a prime road or a public installation in memory of Ssemogerere for his exceptional service and distinction to this country.
Sseggona stated that the late was a vanguard of democracy and rule of law evidenced in all his political efforts, even in circumstances of extreme disagreement.
“His death culminates into 90 years of a character of steadfast loyalty to the country, a high level of integrity, a stellar record of service and a deep sense of nationalism. His ideological understanding was underpinned by a belief that Uganda is greater than all manner of belief of any one individual or institution,” he added.
Sseggona noted that the late Dr Ssemogerere was particularly saddened by the high-handed actions of political intolerance by state operatives.
He said: “Ssemogerere was in dismay over the assault on constitutionalism and rule of law; the uncertainty of the debate on succession and economic stagnation among others,” adding that this was a far cry from the Uganda he tirelessly worked for.
Hon. James Baba (NRM, Koboko County) said that Ssemogerere was exceptional in his service as a Minister for Foreign Affairs, making sure the interests of Foreign Service Officers were protected.
“The aspiration of any person who becomes a Foreign Service Officer is to work towards becoming an ambassador; a dream that Ssemogerere made sure was realised for all us, me inclusive,” he said, adding that that dream has today been dashed by the powers that be.
UPC’s Lira East Division MP, Jimmy Akena, also paid tribute to the late Ssemogerere supporting the notion that the struggle for multi-party politics was at the forefront.
“It was clear to him that we did not have to agree on everything but on a common ideal for a better Uganda as a country,” Akena said.
Hon. Richard Lumu (DP, Mityana County South) said that Ssemogerere was exceptionally incorruptible and humble with a great love for his country.
Lumu said that in the Democratic Party, he preached a sense of nationalism stating that, “if there is anything to die for, it is to die fighting for your country”.
Hon. Juliet Kinyamatama (Indp., Rakai District Woman MP) paid tribute to the late Ssemogerere saying that the youth should pick from his unifying character, especially in politics.
“It was evident that Uganda came first in all that he did and never did he segregate along political, tribal and religious lines,” she supplemented.
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Thomas Tayebwa, in his tribute, stressed that it is important for people across the country to learn from Ssemogerere that it is acceptable to work with the government for the benefit of the country.
“It should become acceptable for anyone to work with government to serve our country regardless of their political predisposition; we should not criticise these people but instead understand that they serve the interests of Uganda,” he said.
Tayebwa added that Ssemogerere never feared competition and believed in the constructive competition which everyone should adopt.
He further encouraged MPs to adopt a healthy lifestyle to live a long constructive life like that of the late Ssemogerere, who was buried on 21 November at his ancestral home in Wakiso District.