THE Uganda Peopleâ€™s Congress (UPC) may be battling in court over whether the late Milton Obote was wrong to sack Presidential Policy Commission (PPC) chairman Dr. James Rwanyarare, but Rwanyarareâ€™s former deputy Henry Mayega is busy campaigning to replace Obote.
The 39-year-old Mayega, a Makerere University employee, started his political career as a National Union of Students of Uganda (NUSU) chairman at Makerere High School in 1985, the year Obote, the NUSU patron, was overthrown from power.
Mayega became a serious UPC activist after he had become a member of Makerere Guild Representative Council.
After his bachelorâ€™s degree in education, he remained at Makerere to do a masterâ€™s degree in public administration and management. After this, he was employed at the university as a senior administrative assistant, acting public relations officer (1991-95) and assistant registrar in 1999.
Obote appointed Mayega to the PPC in 2000. When the appointing authority scrapped the PPC, Obote retained Mayega on the Constitutional Steering Committee (CSC) as an ordinary member.
â€œWhile on the PPC, I spent many days with Dr. Obote, and he revealed to me a lot about the party, the country and the challenges of leadership,â€ says Mayega.
â€œObote has left a gap which, I feel, I can competently occupy,â€ adds Mayega, who is also interested in uprooting former state minister for defence Muruli Mukasa from the Nakasongola Constituency.
Born to Mr. and Mrs Nyombi Kajja of Nakasongola, Mayega belongs to the Nyonyi Nakinsige clan.
Whether being a Muganda will help Mayega in a party that has been known to have its most bitter critics in Buganda is yet to be seen.
But Mayega is already preparing to relinquish his university post in order to have a go at the party presidency and the constituency.
â€œIf the law requires us to resign from public office in order to run for political office, I will do exactly that,â€ says Mayega.
UPC members who have expressed interest in the post include Joseph Ochieno, who until recently was living in the UK and is believed to have been Oboteâ€™s favourite, and Dr James Rwanyarare.
Whether to prepare for the rigorous routine of campaigning or entirely out of a well-cultivated habit, Mayega spends at least one hour everyday at Makerere Universityâ€™s Club 5 gym.
But Mayega has his faults, too. A journalist can hardly engage him in a discussion of Ugandan politics because he is more likely to only repeat his belief that President Yoweri Museveni is a dictator and a killer. The electorate might want to hear the bad side of Museveni, but they might also want to discuss more concrete alternative policies for Uganda.
Mayega wants to fill the gap Obote left