By John V Sserwaniko
Taking advantage of then incumbent Mariam Najjemba Mbabali’s decision not to seek reelection, political novice Sylivia Nayebare fluked Greater Mpigi politics (from the showbiz world) and easily became Woman MP Gomba district. That was 2016 but now, barely 5 years later, Najjemba has once again renewed her political appetite and she is pondering reclaiming her political throne come 2021.
The very nostalgic Gomba voters are pressurizing her to shorten her political retirement and come to rescue them from Nayebare’s lukewarm political representation. Doubling as the long serving Chairperson for National Women Council till 2018, Najjemba had raised the bar too high Nayebare has had to try hard to have her impact felt and she is so far not succeeding.
She isn’t being felt in the constituency; neither has she had any significant impact or visibility at the national level like the more flamboyant Najjemba was. To many voters, even in Parliament, Nayebare is yet to make herself heard making her maiden speech on the floor of the House. This is a total contrast to Najjemba who was vocal and easily visible in her first term (2006-2011) long before even becoming Urban Development Minister. Unlike totally inconsequential Nayebare, Najjemba had had a history of community service in the same constituency especially in the area of health promotion.
Najjemba, who Museveni personally picked from total obscurity as one of the young very jobless poor graduates in Gomba, started out serving as the district health promotion officer, a position to which she was posted by the President himself. Her role was to detoxicate the minds of Gomba residents amongst whom Cholera had claimed many lives as it took long for the community to accept what it was: many for long mistook the epidemic to be witchcraft. With Museveni’s funding, Najjemba (a graduate of History and Political Science at Makerere) had to undertake many basic courses to deepen her understanding of public health advocacy issues.
She was also the contact person Museveni deployed to coordinate between his poor disease-stricken Gomba neighbors and officials at Mulago Hospital and the Ministry of Health. Najjemba’s native Gomba is within the proximity of the President’s ranch in Kisozi.
Four years into the health promotion job, Najjemba got another promotional appointment by the President. She became his Presidential Assistant in charge of research on public health issues. Working with Museveni this closely exposed Najjemba to the details of politics and how the whole game is played. After 5 years into this research assistant job, Najjemba started preparations to serve her people in the capacity of representative in Parliament. She became legislator in 2006 and became chairperson of the Parliamentary Forum on HIV/Aids and later Vice Chair for the ICT Committee. Somewhere along the way, she also chaired the House committee on HIV/Aids.
In her 2nd term as Gomba woman MP (2011-2016), Najjemba was appointed Minister and posted in the Lands Ministry specifically tackling the docket of Urban Development under the parental Daudi Migereko as senior Minister. Najjemba, who first met Museveni through her mother Aisha Nababi in 1996 as a fresh University graduate, took up business upon political retirement in 2016. She runs her lucrative business of fashion wear in Kampala and her city boutique is called Celebrity Styles and it mostly deals in ladies wear.
Her mother Aisha Nababi of Maddu Gomba was the women affairs Secretary on the area LC and used a Museveni visit to the area to strategically position her daughter. As a chairperson of the Presidential visitation organizing committee, Nababi ensured her daughter sat strategically and prepared to ask a very intriguing question that Museveni (who back then-1996-was still a very revolutionary President) could easily remember her for.
Indeed the young very gorgeous girl got the microphone and made a prolonged submission focusing the President on the pains fresh graduates like herself faced trying to find a job. That’s how the President took note of her and area NRM supporters pressurized him to get her something and gratefully graduates back then weren’t as many as today. Najjemba is naturally very talkative and an engaging personality who has found life enjoyable as a boutique operator as she undertakes endless chats with her female customers who are mostly high-earning working corporate women.
As a younger girl, Najjemba (who to this day still praises Museveni like a god) went to Bat Valley Primary School which her outrageously very polygamous father Samuel Muganga specifically chose as the most appropriate school for his daughter. From there she enrolled at Kitante Hill School where she lasted 6 years before joining Makerere University where she read History and Political Science (a course her mentor President Museveni these days badly despises).
Having walked out of her previous marriage with a one Prof Muyinda, Najjemba (formerly Rosemary) is now happily married to Bukoto South MP Hajji Muyanja Mbabali to whom she was officially given by her parents in a traditional ceremony a few years ago. Wealthy Mbabali is a devout Muslim and marriage to him necessitated change of name from Rosemary to Mariam and this is something Najjemba is very proud of. And with Mbabali’s generous backing, Najjemba (the mother of 3) is certain raising campaign funds for the Gomba woman MP won’t be a hassle. This means low-profiled Nayebare’s days as MP are clearly numbered. (For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).