Monday, June 12, 2017

{UAH} Wilfred Kajeke, the former youth MP for Eastern Uganda and later, Mbale municipality.


Today, we turn our focus on Wilfred Kajeke, the former youth MP for Eastern Uganda and later, Mbale municipality.
Any journalist who has covered parliament knows that there are rules and etiquette to follow. For instance when you see the speaker or deputy speaker coming your way, you stop (and sometimes acknowledge his/her presence with a feigned smile). 

When I started covering parliament in late 2004 (I was working at The Sunrise newspaper-a small but lovely paper that has nurtured some of the finest journalists), I did not know these rules.
So one day while walking in the corridors at parliament, I saw Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, the then speaker, approach my direction. Everyone stood still as he made his way but I somehow did not figure out why. I continued walking towards him then all of a sudden, someone pulled me out of the way. It was a tall, handsome gentleman. Wilfred Kajeke is his name.

"That is the speaker young man," Kajeke said to me as I looked on, unbothered. I was like a kid in a play park.
Kajeke, a lawyer by profession, was then youth MP for Eastern Uganda. It was a stroke of luck that landed him into the seat. In 2001, hardly a two years in the House, Jay Tanna (brother to Sanjay Tanna), the incumbent MP, chose to resign after his academic papers. In the by-election, Kajeke emerged winner defeating Jay's brother Sanjay (who would later become Tororo municiplaity MP). Jay was later perished in a road accident at Busitema in 2003.
While I never regularly interacted with Kajeke, I observed him closely.
He was quiet and reclusive but nonetheless smart and brainy.
He was one of the few legislators who spoke out vocally against President Museveni move to influence MPs to amend the constitution and lift presidential term limits.
Once in 2005, I witnessed an altercation between Kajeke and Jacob Oulanyah, the then chair of the parliamentary committee on legal affairs. After a heated meeting, Kajeke accused Oulanyah (in the presence of journalists] of having been compromised by Museveni to push for the amendment of the constitution (Oulanyah was then a member of UPC).
Never one to take things lying down, Oulanyah took me and another journalist to his office and off his PC showed us pictures of his mansion in Muyenga.
"I have built this house using my money. It has two sitting rooms. One is for very important people and the other for regular visitors..[Andrew] Mwenda has been to this house…even [Norbert Mao]," he said adding that he was not as poor as Kajeke.

In 2006, Kajeke contested and won the Mbale municipality seat.
His second tenure was largely uneventful until he announced in July 2009, that he would resign from parliament because "government was not doing enough to fight corruption."
That reason appeared unconvincing even to a toddler and it was not long before journalists started writing "inside" stories of why he stepped down (one local tabloid likes using the words "inside story" even on stories whose facts are out in the open or on social media).
Anyways, it was later revealed that Kajeke was so indebted and as a way out, Museveni had offered to bail him out if he cedes his seat to the NRM. There was also talk that government had offered him a scholarship abroad. Kajeke did not come out to clear the air.
Whatever the case, Kajeke's decision marked a tragic turn in the political career of the young legislator.
Kajeke's antics also disappointed many people including his admirers from Mbale.

One of them is Wanyama Don Innocent, the indefatigable senior presidential press secretary, who made his feelings known in a post on his blog NO HOLDS BARRED (suggestion: it should be renamed HOLDS BARRED), on July 16, 2009.

Don wrote, "…Reading his [Kajeke's] resignation speech [in parliament], one would see the work of a genius, the words of a democrat, but that's just where they stopped-words. Because beneath it, Kajeke hid the truth of his buy-out by the NRM government. Beneath his speech, he hid the fact that he had cut a deal to cede the constituency that he gained on the opposition FDC ticket to the NRM government. What Kajeke never mentioned in Parliament was that up to Shs120 million had exchanged hands, some of it in installments to help the NRM take over the constituency and make a political statement. What he never mentioned was the impulsive action borne of a Besigye-Kayihura spat in Rock Hotel sometime last year during the fuel crisis. He did not make mention of the story about him going abroad to study and leave an orphaned constituency....What he concealed from his constituents was the fact that an ego and superiority war between him and fellow FDC MP Nandala Mafabi was eating him slowly like a cancer. These and many more are the truths that Mbale people will never get to know…"

I could not have put it better than Wanyama (although I found his allegation that "NRM buys people", too strong and baseless).
Nice day folks!

Allaah gives the best to those who leave the choice to Him."And if Allah touches you with harm, none can remove it but He, and if He touches you with good, then He is Able to do all things." (6:17)

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