By David Ssempijja
EVEN the best dancer, at one point, leaves the floor,â€ so the saying goes, thus suiting Amelia Kyambaddeâ€™s triumphant entry into and exit from State House after serving diligently for over two decades.
This, however, does not mean Kyambadde is no longer a â€˜dancerâ€™, it is just a change of stage and the tune to which she will be dancing. Kyambadde, who has been the longest-serving principal private secretary (PPS) to the President has spoken out about her work, passion for her cause, and why she is leaving one of the most powerful offices in the land to serve the ordinary people.
Addressing various State House employees last week, Kyambadde spoke about various lows and highs she faced while executing her duties. It is these experiences that have eventually led her to the path she has embarked on.
â€œEvery year, the President gives very good economic indicative figures through his addresses to the nation but at the grassroots, ordinary people continue to struggle. I said to myself, if I am a member of the Movement government, and a great supporter of the President, why should I sit here and look on when people are suffering?
â€œI realised we were operating in a vacuum and many of our leaders were not using their positions to reach out to the ordinary Ugandan. I decided to be an example to spread the message of development to other areas,â€ she said.
Kyambadde said she had decided to bow out of civil service after over 30 years of service to contest for the Mawokota North Member of Parliament seat. â€œIt is supporting the President from a different angle,â€ she said.
Kyambadde said she initiated the Twezimbe Development Association in Mawokota which has been sensitising the people about government programmes. She also established village committees that regularly report projects that are not functioning or abandoned for various reasons.
The meeting which was attended by the newly appointed second deputy PPS, Kintu Nyago, and the acting State House comptroller, Lucy Nakyobe Mbonye, was a little nostalgic with members of staff giving a peek into the past and present relationship with Amelia, as a friend, co-worker, supervisor and boss.
Kyambadde said the PPSâ€™ job called for devotion, dedication, loyalty and commitment. â€œFor the Presidency to be functional, you need to adopt a spirit of sacrifice, work late and listen to the ordinary people. This takes devotion, dedication and loyalty. One must also be careful about their utterances,â€ she said.
Kyambadde said whereas along the way you make a lot of friends, there are as many â€˜parasitesâ€™. â€œLife should be treated as a sieve through which you must be careful who you deal with,â€ she counselled.
She adds that being appointed by the President to serve the country with over 30 million people means a responsibility of uplifting the voiceless and not abusing them. She said that many people join State House with the hope of getting rich quick, and cautioned that service is about contribution and sacrifice which should not be abused.
Kyambadde also warned against cliques, rumour-mongering and self-aggrandisement.
Museveni praises Amelia
According to a statement from State House, President Yoweri Museveni described Amelia as a reliable, loyal, and committed worker who should be emulated by other civil servants.
â€œShe is reliable, loyal and also has a political commitment. Since the time I started working with her, we have had continuous contact. There was a short interruption of four to five years when we were in the bush and she had to flee to Sweden. But while in Sweden, she joined our political external committee there. When I visited Sweden in 1985, she was very active with her husband at our branch there,â€ he says.
The President said her political commitment was vital for political compartibility that ensured sustainable partnership in terms of work. â€œPolitical commitment brings political compartibility. If a senior person is thinking like this, and the worker is thinking in a different direction, there can be no sustainable partnership in terms of work. Kyambadde is a very good worker, that is why I kept her for this long,â€ Museveni adds.
Kyambadde has facilitated a lot of achievements under the NRM, for the years she has been working with him. â€œMost of the orders and guidance which I give are conveyed by her, either through letters which I draft and they type, or they draft and I edit. So in that sense, she has been involved in many of the achievements,â€ he said.
War on corruption
Museveni hails Ameliaâ€™s fight against corruption, saying it was because of her that he managed to know about corruption in the rural areas, justifying the cause for allowing her to continue being active in Mawokota North.
â€œKyambadde is a resident of Mawokota North, and I think that is where she was born. One time, she reported things to do with a health centre at Muduuma which was not finished, and yet people had been paid all the money. Then she also brought me information about a road contracted for sh360m, yet when she consulted an engineer informally, he said it would cost sh67m,â€ Museveni added. â€œI gave her the money to go and give it to the engineer to see if he can do that road on that money. And he did it. Which means other people had over invoiced the job.â€
The President said he kept encouraging her to deal with other issues including boreholes, etc. â€œWe found that you could repair boreholes using as little money as sh100,000 yet you find a lot of boreholes not working for a long time; people having no water because of lack of interest by local leaders. She is one of those people who have helped me know more about corruption in rural areas,â€ he said.
How the President met her
He first met Kyambadde in 1979 when he was the minister of defence. â€œShe was brought to me by one of my relatives, the late Christopher Kiyombo, because Tanzanians had stolen their car. This was after we had chased Idi Amin. When she came, I said I would help find her car, and told her to come back. After a few days, she had got the car, but I donâ€™t remember the details very well,â€ Museveni recounts.
Who is Amelia Kyambadde?
Amelia Anne Kulubya Kyambadde is the out-going principal private secretary to The President of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Presently, she is the longest serving staff to the President, a job she is leaving voluntarily to vie for Mawokota North Constituency as MP come 2011 general elections.
Kyambadde was born to Sserwano Kulubya and Mary Kafureka in Guilford Hospital Surrey London United Kingdom.
She attended Gayaza Primary School, Gulu Sacred Heart, Agha-Khan, Nairobi School of Secretarial Studies, Makerere University for Bachelor of Business Administration and London American International University for a masters in business administration.
She worked in her fatherâ€™s law firm briefly, before joining Ministry of Defence as personal secretary to Hon. Museveni, by then state minister for defence after the fall of Aminâ€™s government.
There was chaos after the 1980 elections hence she went into exile in Sweden where she was an active member of the National ResistanceMovement/Army.
In 1986, she returned to Uganda and took office as the private secretary to the President.
Kyambadde has been married to Wilson Kyambadde since 1976 and they have six children and grand children.