Parliament of Uganda is conducting a special sitting to pay tributes to former Dokolo District Woman Member of Parliament, Cecilia Ogwal, who lost the battle against cancer at one of the major hospitals in India on January 18.
Later in the evening, President Yoweri Museveni, who has granted the late Ogwal an official burial, will drive to Parliament to pay his last respects to a woman who called him “my brother” whenever they met at public events. Ogwal has been praised by many for her head-on fight against corruption, and she has always spoken about this without fear or favour in front of the president.
The former Uganda Peoples’ Congress (UPC) stalwart had switched allegiance to the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), a party that has, in its tributes, described her as a “mentor” and “role model”.
Speaker Anita Among, accompanied by the Clerk to Parliament and several legislators, received the casket carrying the remains of Ogwal to her last entrance to the Parliament of Uganda. Ogwal has been in Parliament since 1996 and was one of the strong voices in the Constitution-making process in 1994. Her remains will be laid to rest on Saturday, January 27, in Kole District.
As Speaker, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja and Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Joel Ssenyonyi, are leading Parliament in paying tributes, this website brings you some of the late Ogwa’s contributions on the floor.
On November 14, 2023, while the opposition continued with its walkout over unexplained human rights issues, Ogwal returned to the House to raise what she called “matters of national importance”.
That day, Ogwal, who is a known strong family woman, was speaking about the need for Uganda to ratify the African, Caribbean and Pacific-European Union (ACP-EU) post-Cotonou Agreement, raising her reservations about the clauses on homosexuality and abortion. Ogwal was part of the Uganda delegation led by Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa at the ACP-EU summit in Mozambique in November 2022, where they stated the country’s position on homosexuality and abortion.
Speaking on November 14, 2023, Ogwal made a passionate appeal to the government of Uganda to present a statement to Parliament about the reviewed post-Cotonou agreement. Here is a summary of that speech as extracted from the Parliament Hansard of the day.
I have been participating in the debate pertaining to this particular agreement. You are all aware that the ACP-EU had the Lomé Convention, which lasted for 20 years and from 2018 to 2020, they have been discussing how they can review the agreement in order to come up with a new Cotonou agreement.
Indeed, the agreement has been reviewed, but new clauses have been entered into this new Cotonou agreement, which we have raised on the Floor of this House. We are insisting that the Government should come up and address this House so that we know the position of Uganda on the new Cotonou agreement.
Madam Speaker. In one minute, I want to tell you that this agreement raises four critical areas that need to be addressed. One, the three regions, that is, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific have to be separated in this new agreement. Whereas the EU remains a solid block, Africa must now stand alone – the Pacific and the Caribbean. We disagree with this because we are the ones going to benefit from the European Union fund. If we are separated, our bargaining power will definitely be weakened. We feel this is a matter we must fight and reject. We cannot allow to sign an agreement, which is going to make us weaker.
Two, one of the things that will hurt you, Madam Speaker and me and all Ugandans is that in that agreement, there is a supremacy clause, which says when you sign the agreement, all other international treaties and protocols will be subject to this agreement. In other words, we are talking about free trade protocols and so on, but they must all be subject to all the conditions that have been stipulated in this new Cotonou agreement.
I think it is very important that we take a close look at the Cotonou Agreement before our President appends his signature.
Three, there is some new concept which has come up in that agreement, which says that the council of ministers can now sit in Brussels and take decisions which will be binding on the respective member states. In other words, you will now bypass Cabinet, you will bypass Parliament, and whatever you discuss in Brussels, whether it will affect the export of coffee or whatever it is, we will have to accept because we have signed the new Cotonou Agreement.
Finally, Madam Speaker – there are many clauses we can all read. The document is available in the library, but one of the things that has come out loud and clear and emphasised in many areas is the issue of LGBTQI; homosexuality, which we have been at the frontline fighting against, is now a critical issue. If we do not accept this LGBTQI, then the EU will not accept us as a trading partner.
Madam Speaker, to make the whole thing nonsensical, we in Africa, in particular Christians – When you commit an abortion, it is a crime, and you cannot enter Heaven because you have killed life. But for us, it is now a right that anybody can do an abortion, and this should not be a sin or a crime. I do not know whether we can allow that. As a Christian and an African, I do not think I would allow that.
Madam Speaker, it is important that you know the membership of this ACP-EU. The Africans are 48 members, the Caribbean are 16 members, and the Pacific are 15, which makes 79 members of ACP. The EU are only 27. The 27 members are driving 79 members to sign protocols which are anti-interest of our member states. Madam Speaker, I request that the Government clarifies to Ugandans how this matter is going to be handled because the deadline for signing is 15th of this month. I beg to submit.
Another of her very last appearances in Parliament was on November 21, when the House was paying tribute to the late Joyce Mpaga, one of Uganda’s first black female members of the Legislative Council (LEGCO). From what is recorded on the Hansard, Ogwal said that Mpaga and other women made a key contribution in the founding of the Pan-African Women Organisation (PAWO).
It is important for you to know that the Pan-African Women Organisation (PAWO) came into existence before the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Before the African Union was formed, the women of Africa came together, including Hon. Joyce Mpanga and some of our great women of Uganda, stood together and they gave birth to PAWO in 1962 before OAU was formed in 1963. Really, how can you forget Hon. Joyce Mpanga? Said Ogwal.
“When you talk about the heroes in Uganda, I urge the Government to remember those women who were bashed by the tradition and culture they suffered. Today, all we are asking you is to remember them and the roles they played. They are not begging for anything. Now, somebody is saying, Joyce would have participated in the formation of policies.”
Praising the late Mpanga who never abandoned her family while serving the Country, she said that:
It is a journey when your husband has demands on you, when the children have demands on you, when a fellow woman is fighting you, when everybody is against you; but you have to stand up and prove you are stronger than the men who are fighting you. Thank you, Joyce –(Interjection) – yes, even the co-wives are fighting you –(Laughter)- and the step children are fighting you, including those whose DNA may not match their husband’s. (Laughter). Mr Speaker, forgive me for being emotional but the death of Hon. Joyce has triggered something unusual in me. I would like to remind you that before Hon. Joyce entered Parliament to join her sister Florence Alice Lubega, an Irish-born Lady called Boyce and an Indian-born lady who was my name sake, Dorothy Barbra Sabinn, were representatives for women in LEGCO, prior to the election of 1958,” she eulogized
Ogwal in her speech went on to praise Mpaga as one of the women who only did not play politics but make a big contribution in the struggle for African liberation. She named other women who like Mpaga made a spirited fight for liberation.
I would like to let you know that apart from Hon. Joyce playing a role in the politics of Uganda, it is amazing that the struggle for the liberation of Africa, a young girl at her age got involved.
And, some unthinkable young girls got involved very vigorously and made sure that the PAWO was established and drove the affairs of the liberation struggle from the front of women, leaving the men still fighting, “who will be our Chairperson if we come together as the Organisation of African Union (OAU),” explained Ogwal.
These women are; Bibi Titi Mohamed of Tanzania, Jeanne Martin Cisse of Guinea, Ruth Neto of Angola, Aoua Keita of Mali, Pumla Kisosonkole of Uganda, Rebecca Mulira of Uganda, Margaret Mambui Kenyatta, the daughter of President Jomo Kenyatta, Joyce Mpanga of Uganda, Fatia Bettahar from Algeria, Likimani Muthoni a Kenyan Journalist, Phoebe Asiyo a former member of Parliament from Kenya, Albertina Sisulu from South Africa, and Maria Nyerere, former first lady of Tanzania.
On the recent contributions of the late Mpaga, she told Parliament that the deceased had together with other women converged in the Ethiopian Capital, Addis Abana in for the activities of PAWO in Africa with a call for silencing of the gun on the continent.
That was the role that Hon. Joyce Mpanga played recently in 2018, to make sure that we start a new programme of how we can silence guns in Africa and start the journey for development and unity. Now that she has entered the casket, though many of us would not want and I am sure that if we were to ask the family members, they would have said, “she could have waited for may be another one or two months” but the issue is, she would have to entered anyway. Now that we have agreed with God that she has entered the casket and she is going, what message would she leave us with? This is our challenge now, how do we remember Hon. Joyce as an educationist, pioneer women mobiliser, a distinguished teacher? I would want you to remember that Hon. Joyce Mpanga, the husband dying and leaving her young but she was able to rear those children, whose names were read, she spoke to applauses from colleagues.