Akena mourns Cecilia, tells how and when she became the “Iron Lady”

(Last Updated On: 25 January 2024)

Key issues:

  • Cecilia Atim Ogwal was the Dokolo district woman MP until her death last week on Thursday in India.
  • After leaving UPC, she joined the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party
  • She will be buried on Saturday, January 27 in Alito, Kole district. She died aged 77.

Kampala I While addressing the press on Wednesday, UPC party president Jimmy Akena said it was important to “speak more from the heart as this is the period when we are still recognizing the contributions of Cecilia Atim Ogwal who had her roots in Uganda Peoples Congress”.

According to Akena, Cecilia was among one of the young people identified by the Uganda Peoples Congress to different positions of authority, adding the deceased “was able to act in that capacity”.

“Today, I want to give a little more context because I have been following a lot that has been said in various forums, on the floor of Parliament. I think it’s important to give context and how the name ‘Iron Lady’ came about,” said Akena.

“When the National Resistance Army took over the government which they want on to celebrate on the 26th of January 1986, one of the first things which was done was through a legal notice, limiting the activities of political parties to their headquarters. As Uganda Peoples Congress, many of our leaders at the time were arrested, and held in Luzira for a long period of time often without charge. There were ministers, leaders at local levels and the Vice President of Uganda Peoples Congress who was the most senior leader at the time was also held in Luzira for quite some time.

“That is the context where Cecilia Ogwal, being the next highest leader is that she became the assistant secretary general after the November 1980 delegates conference of the UPC where she was voted… in that position because at that time after the election the President was also the Minister of Finance, the Vice President was also the Minister of Defence and the Secretary-General was also the Minister of Internal Affairs, the administration largely fell in the hands of Cecilia Ogwal and therefore she spent a lot of her time in the First Floor of Uganda House….where those who were looking for her would find her as she runs the day to day activities of the party.

“Going back to, I would say late 80s when parties could not still operate outside of their headquarters, there was also a war taking place in what is now called the ‘greater north’ largely Acholi, Lango and Teso. As a consequence of that war, we still have to this day in the budgetary rollout compensation for lost cattle. Now communities who rely on cattle will find a situation that when you lose cattle you have lost a lot but in the upcoming budget 2024/25, there is still an element of compensation for the cattle lost.

“At one stage the displacement of Ugandans exceeded two million and international organizations were reporting that every month we are losing – well over 300 people were dying out of causes which should have not been the case. That is the context under which UPC struggled to maintain a political direction for this country and the voice of the party in Uganda was Cecilia Ogwal. So, you don’t take this context to sanitize the political situation, it was a difficult situation, there was massive displacement in much of the country, people were suffering and politics was proscribed. Our senior leader, the Vice President was in Luzira including other leaders of UPC.”

With all the above sequence of events, Akena said, “I have to appreciate Cecilia Ogwal for standing up in that context and for speaking out on the rights of the citizens of Uganda.”

Akena eulogized Cecilia as a woman who stood for democracy in Uganda and across East Africa, adding that Cecilia was nurtured by his late father also the President of Uganda Dr Apollo Milton Obote.

The Congress, he said, was the first regime to empower women like Cecilia.

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