Sunday, March 3, 2013

Uganda's first Deputy Prime Minister Eriya Kategaya reputed as a
historical member and an ideologue of the ruling NRM party on Saturday
night breathed his last at Nairobi Hospital, Kenya, where he had been
hospitalised for weeks. He was 67.

“The government, with deep sorrow, wishes to announce the death of

Kategaya,” Information Minister Karooro Okurut said.

“This is a tragedy both for the family and the country. His death is a

massive loss to Uganda and has robbed the country of an exemplary
freedom fighter and true statesman.”

The cause of death was not immediately clear, but Sunday Monitor was

told doctors had previously discovered a blood clot in Kategaya’s leg
that was suspected to drift toward his brain.

The deputy premier simultaneously held the ministerial docket for East

African Affairs but had been in bad health for months, on occasions
being admitted to Kampala’s upscale Nakasero Hospital after episodes
of blackouts.

Kategaya, a childhood friend of President Museveni, was considered the

country’s de facto Number Two until 2003 when acrimonious debates
about lifting of the constitutional provision on presidential term
limits, which he opposed, polarised him and the President.

Political life

Together with other dissenting and outspoken ministers such as Maria

Matembe, he was subsequently fired from Cabinet, where he had served
uninterrupted under Museveni.

The presidential term limits were scrapped, clearing the main hurdle

that has kept the President in power to-date.

After quitting government, Kategaya maintained an uncompromising

stance and was understood to hobnob with opposition activists, vowing
he would never become a political turncoat.

“Men only turn in bed but not on their words,” the former Rwampara

constituency MP said, quoting a popular fable among his kins,
ostensibly to underline his steely resolve at the time to keep out of
what he considered a tainted regime.

Time proved him wrong and Kategaya struck a back-door deal with

Museveni, and was to join cabinet and be assigned the First Deputy
Premiership slot, one of several distinguished positions he had held
before the 2003 fallout.

“We have lost a patriot, a very transparent person and a man with many

special leadership qualities,” said Gender Minister John Nasasira, a
long-serving Cabinet colleague and personal friend.

“He was always for the unity of Uganda, and we shall remember his

contribution to the freedom enjoyed in this country today.”

The departed deputy premier belonged to the political wing of the

National Resistance Movement, whose military wing; the NRA, won a
five-year guerilla war that brought President Museveni to power in

He and Museveni were understood to be close friends, having first met

at the same primary school and moving on to graduate from Dar es
Salaam University in Tanzania.

It was there that they crystalised their plans for armed liberation of

Uganda, leading to the violent ouster of Gen. Tito Okello Lutwa’s
military junta.

State International Affairs Minister Okello-Oryem, a son of toppled

President Okello Lutwa, said he visited Kategaya at Nairobi Hospital
on Thursday, and conferred with him for about an hour on wide-ranging
themes including the financial scam in the Office of the Prime
Minister, the prickly parliamentary debate on the Marriage and Divorce
Bill, 2009, and resolutions of NRM Caucus at the recent Kyankwanzi


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