Uganda: The 15 Top Women in the Cabinet Limelight

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Vice President, Jessica Rose Epel Alupo,

If you have been following political events closely, you should be aware of the speculation on who the next vice president of Uganda would be. Some thought it would be former Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, other names included Lucy Nakyobe, and others thought Edward Ssekandi would bounce back.

In what came as a surprise to many, Jessica Aluko was appointed the new vice president and the second female vice president in the history of Uganda, after Dr Specioza Wandira Kazibwe.

She also doubles as Katakwi Woman Member of Parliament. She replaces Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi who has deputised the President for a decade. Alupo is not new into the political landscape. She is a politician, educationist and former military officer. She previously served as minister of Education.

Alupo holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Linguistics and a Master’s degree in International Relations and Diplomacy. She also holds a Master’s in Public Administration and management. She was a teacher at Katakwi High School in eastern Uganda, an instructor at the Uganda Urban Warfare Training School, in Nakaseke District and she also served as an intelligence officer at the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence.

Alupo first contested for Katakwi District woman’s Representative in 2001. She won and was re-elected in 2006. In 2009, she was appointed state minister for Youth and Children Affairs. She was appointed minister of Education and Sports in 2011, replacing Namirembe Bitamazire.

KASULE LUMUMBA: Minister in charge of General Duties

Nobody paints the ruling National Resistance Movement yellow like Kasule Lumumba. Her mobilisations skills and loyalty to the party speak volumes. She has been the secretary general of NRM since 2014.

In 1997, Lumumba worked as the District Inspector of Schools in Bugiri District and she joined the Ministry of Education where she served as senior education officer between 1998 and 2001.

She contested for the Woman MP seat in Bugiri District and won. She was again re-elected into Parliament from 2001 until 2014, when she was appointed as the secretary general.

Prior to this appointment, Lumumba served as the government chief whip.

MARIA GORETTI KITUTU- Minister for Karamoja Affairs

She was a minister of State for Environment and the Woman Member of Parliament of Manafwa District. She has extensive work experience as a professional in the field of environmental information systems and management, with skillsets in remote sensing, GIS, and environmental modelling.

As a professional, she has carried out environmental assessments, geotechnical assessments, disaster and vulnerability assessments, and environmental monitoring. As a public official, she has utilised those skillsets at the local and national level.

Kitutu has participated in activities with international organisations such as the United Nations, Intergovernmental Authority on Development

She holds a bachelor of science in Geology and Chemistry, an MSc in Environment Systems Analysis and Monitoring, and a PhD in science.

LUKIA NAKADAMA- Third Deputy Prime Minister and Minister without Portfolio

Rukia Isanga Nakadama is a businesswoman, educationist and politician. She is the current State Minister for Gender and Culture in the Ugandan Cabinet. She was appointed to that position in 2006. In the cabinet reshuffle of February 16, 2009 and that of May 27, 2011, she retained his cabinet post. She is also the elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Mayuge District Women’s Representative. She has been continuously re-elected to that position since 2001. Prior to 2001, she worked as a private businesswoman and as a teacher at the Hassantourabi Education Centre in Mayuge District. She was first elected to Parliament in 2001, as the Woman Representative for her home district of Mayuge. In 2006, she was re-elected to continue representing the same constituency. She was appointed to her present cabinet post in 2006.

AGNES NANDUTU- Minister of Statefor Karamoja

She is a bubbly media personality known for holding leaders accountable. Agnes Nandutu became a household name as a reporter and presenter of Point Blank, a weekly skit that runs on NTV highlighting the humorous side of politicians.

She would later become a mainstay journalist on parliamentary affairs before joining politics. But it is the People’s Parliament show on NTV, where she acted as a speaker that laid a firm foundation for her political career. She has traversed most of the districts in Uganda meeting leaders and citizens and discussing the challenges they face.

After 20 years of journalism, Nandutu decided to quit and join active politics and contested in the ruling party primaries for the Bududa Woman MP Seat. She lost to incumbent Justin Khainza who gathered 34,012 votes while Nandutu got 26,234 votes. At a time when people thought her chances of winning a political office had shrunk, she kept her head high and decided to contest as an independent. In January she was elected Woman MP for Bududa District.

JOYCE SSEBUGWAWO, State Minister for Information, โ”€ Communication Technology and National Guidance

If there is an appointment that caught many by surprise, it is one of Joyce Ssebugwawo. Until this appointment, she was one of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) stalwarts, a party she has served in different capacities including acting as deputy spokesperson. She is a former chair of the FDC and a former mayor of Rubaga Division, a position she held for many years. It is not yet known whether she will turn down the appointment.

Ssebugwawo also previously served as a minister in the Buganda government. She served as a minister for women, community work and mobilisation. In the January 14 polls, Ssebugwawo was trounced by National Unity Platform’s Zachary Mawula Mberaze in the Rubaga Division.

MONICA MUSENERO- Minister in charge of Science, Technology and Innovation

Dr Musenero is a veterinarian, microbiologist and epidemiologist. Prior to this appointment, she has serving as an epidemiology consultant to the government while serving as an advisor to the president on epidemics and pandemics. She has previously served as the principal epidemiologist and assistant commissioner for epidemiology and surveillance in the Ministry of Health. Her role in the fight against Ebola on the continent won her recognition as far as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone. Musenero regularly engages health journalists and explains basic concepts about the pandemic since they would be at the forefront of passing on accurate information to the public to quell the panic.

MARGARET MUHANGA, Minister of Lands

Margaret Mugisa Muhanga is a Member of Parliament for Burahya County in Kabarole District. She hit the headlines when she claimed she had sold goats to raise Shs10 billion that she used to buy UBC land in Bugolobi, a Kampala suburb.

She is a fearless and vocal NRM cadre, who is not afraid of defending the regime at any cost. She worked with The New Vision in the early 1990s.

HARRIET NTABAZI, Minister of State for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives

She was appointed State Minister for Industry on June 6, 2016 but her appointment was rejected by the parliamentary appointments committee. She was, therefore, not sworn in with the rest of the Cabinet on June 22, 2016.

Between 2011 and 2016, she served as the women’s representative for Bundibugyo in Parliament. From 1989 until 1992, Ntabazi served as a records clerk. She then worked as a librarian at Semuliki High School, from 1994 until 1998. She served as a District Youth Councillor between 1998 until 2000. From 2001 until 2005, she served as the women’s representative on the Bundibugyo District Local Government Council. She concurrently worked as a senior mobiliser for NRM party from 1994 until 2005. She entered elective politics in 2010 and at the 2011 general election was elected to represent the Women’s Representative for Bundibugyo, having defeated incumbent Jane Alisemera in the NRM primary. In 2015, however, she lost the NRM primaryto Josephine Babungi Benona and consequently did not contest the 2016 general election.

VICTORIA RUSOKE BUSINGE; Minister of State for Local Government

She was the woman Member of Parliament for Kabarole District in the ninth Parliament. She was re-elected in the 2021 January elections. In 2018, she was appointed and sworn in as the new member of the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) by the former Chief Justice, Justice Bart M. Katureebe.

She served as the District Education Officer for Kabarole from 2003 to 2010. She served as a head teacher in various schools and served on several parliamentary committees.

DR JANE RUTH ACENG, Minister of Health

Aceng is a paediatrician and she retains the same position she had in the last Cabinet after being praised for how she handled the Covid-19 epidemic when it first showed up in the country. Aceng’s rich history as a public health expert has seen her gain different roles such as medical officer, senior medical officer, medical officer special grade, medical superintendent, consultant paediatrician, senior consultant pediatrician, and hospital director, where she was responsible for coordinating technical functions for the delivery of health services. She is also the Woman Representative for Lira District in Parliament.

JANET KATAAHA MUSEVENI, Minister of Education and Sports

She is the First Lady and has focused her attention on socio-economic and health issues. She founded and has been patron to

the Uganda Women’s Effort to Save Orphans (UWESO), an indigenous NGO which cares for war-related and HIV/Aids-affected orphans in all the districts of Uganda. The NGO has been in operation since 1986 and works with major UN agencies and other international donor agencies.

National Strategy for the Advancement of Rural Women in Uganda (NSARWU), an NGO which works with poor rural women to empower them economically through various interventions.

Uganda Youth Forum (UYF), an NGO that engages the youth of Uganda for purposes of character and behaviour formation particularly with regard to HIV and Aids prevention.International.

She is also an Active member of OAFLA, an Organization that unites the First Ladies of Africa in the fight against HIV and AIDS in the Region.

ROBINAH NABBANJA, Prime Minister

She replaces Dr Ruhakana Rugunda as the leader of government business. She doubles as the Kakumiro Woman Member of Parliament. Prior to this appointment, Nabbanja served as the State Minister for Health until December 2019.

Between 1990 and 2000, Nabbanja obtained certificates and diplomas in leadership, management, and development studies, from various institutions, including Uganda Martyrs University, Uganda Management Institute, the Islamic University in Uganda, and the National Leadership Institute Kyankwanzi. Her Bachelor of Democracy and Development Studies and her Master of Arts in Development

Studies were both awarded by Uganda Martyrs University. From 1993 until 1996, Nabbanja was a teacher at Uganda Martyrs Secondary School Kakumiro.

She served as District Councillor, representing Nkooko Sub-County, from 1998 until 2001. She also served as the Secretary for Health, Gender, and Community Services for the district during that period.

From 2001 to 2010, she served as a Resident District Commissioner in Pallisa, Busia, and Budaka districts.

In 2011, she contested for Kibaale District Women Representative in the 9th Parliament. When Kakumiro District was created in 2016, she contested for the Women Constituency in the new district and won again.

ROSE AKELLO- State Minister for Ethics and Integrity

She is the Woman MP for Karenga District. Previously, she served as district Woman Member of Parliament for Kaabong District in the 9th and 10th Parliament. She became the Kaabong District Woman MP after winning a by-election in 2017 against Christine Tubo Nakwang. She is a teacher and she previously worked as Kaabong District Service Commissioner from 1995 to 2002. She also served as a member at Kotido District Tender Board between 2002 and 2005. From 2003 to date, she serves as the director of Mowoin Women’s Group, Kaabong District.

HELLEN ADOA, Minister of State for Agriculture and Animal Industry

She served as director at various early childhood and elementary educational institutions, some of them co-owned by her. As an educationist, she was named minister of state for Fisheries last year and has retained it after being elected Woman MP for Serere District She started elective politics in 2016.

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