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Adieu UPC’s Dr Luwuliza Kirunda

By Vision Reporter

Added 28th August 2005 03:00 AM

Death has claimed Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) firebrand Dr. John Luwuliza Kirunda.

By Geresom Musamali
Death has claimed Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) firebrand Dr. John Luwuliza Kirunda.
Kirunda, who was a gynaecologist and obstetrical consultant and served as UPC secretary general and internal affairs minister between 1980 and 1985, succumbed to throat cancer at a Zimbabwean hospital last week.
He was buried in his home village of Bulugodha near Busembatia on the Mbale-Iganga highway on August 15.
Born to the late Erukana Nyende Kirunda and Jenet Namutamba in 1940, Kirunda attended Mwiri Junior School and Busoga College Mwiri before joining the then Makerere University College in 1960 for his intermediate certificate.
Among his contemporaries at Makerere were Dr James Rwanyarare, with whom he formed close political ties in the UPC Makerere branch.
He later joined Leeds University in the United Kingdom, where he became a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
He remained and worked in the UK until the early 1970s, and returned to Uganda in 1971, just in time for Idi the Amin coup that sent most UPC members into exile.
But Kirunda, under the guidance of Henry Kyemba, Amin’s close associate and health minister, stayed behind, to witness Amin’s honeymoon. However, that was shortlived.
In 1973, while on a health ministry mission to India, Kirunda fled to Zambia and worked at the University of Zambia Ridgeway Campus. Most Ugandans next heard of him as leader of the UPC delegation to the Moshi (Tanzania) unity talks convened by current local government minister Prof. Tarsis Kabwegyere.
At Moshi, Kirunda was elected member of the National Consultative Council, which was the transition Parliament after the fall of Amin.
Iganga North Constituency, in which Kirunda stood on a UPC ticket during the 1980 elections, recorded some of the most nasty incidents as UPC fought off Democratic Party (DP) candidate Paulo Wangoola.
Before the Electoral Commission could announce the results, Obote appointed Kirunda the internal affairs minister and Wangoola fled to Zambia. Events that followed are very blurred and nobody speaks about them on record.
What came up, however, was that after Wangoola had fled, unknown people went to his father and asked him to produce his son, which he failed and was killed.
Meanwhile, DP had won most seats in Busoga but soon every Musoga Member of Parliament was being suspected of aiding Yoweri Museveni, who had gone to the bush.
In 1983, most of the Basoga MPs were rounded up and detained without trial. When they came out, they denounced any links with Museveni and crossed to UPC. Those who refused remained in prison untill the Okello junta overthrew Obote.
Kirunda was among the most hunted politicians at the time. Stories abound of his associates who were hacked under his suspected orders to avenge the murder or disappearance of political opponents.
He found his way to Zimbabwe and did not look back till his death.
He leaves behind a widow, Margaret, a son, Daudi, in his early 20s and daughter, Jessica, aged about 30.
Sources, however, said Kirunda was a quiet, reserved person.
“He had few words. It was difficult to know what he was thinking,” said a source who was in cabinet with him.
During the funeral, Dr Rwanyarare credited the late Dr Kirunda for having grappled with the security problem at a very difficult time in Uganda’s political history.
Rebecca Kadaga, Parliament’s deputy speaker, said Kirunda greatly assisted the Basoga during a difficult time.
Retired Bishop Cyprian Bamwoze, who was the head of Busoga Diocese, said Kirunda was instrumental in building Bugembe Cathedral.
UPC sources said Kirunda had withdrawn into private life and kept little contact with Uganda House in Kampala and party leader Dr Milton Obote in Zambia. He has been a consultant at Gyeyo Hospital near Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Adieu UPC’s Dr Luwuliza Kirunda

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