The Observer (Kampala)

20 December 2012

Uganda: Nebanda Sister, 18, Wants Butaleja Seat

Photo: New Vision
Nebanda Cerinah Ariouru.

Jovia Kyalisiima, the youngest sibling of fallen Cerinah Nebanda, says she wants to a replace her sister as Woman MP for Butaleja district.

Kyalisiima was born on August 6, 1994. She is 18. Should she be elected to parliament, she would be Uganda's youngest MP, breaking the record set by 19-year-old Usuk MP Proscovia Alengot. But the odds seem stacked against Kyalisiima.

Now in her senior six vacation, she says she is determined to take over from her sister and continue her work in Butaleja.

She is well-spoken and very brave. She is articulate and sounds like the kind of woman who will fit into politics very well if she masters the art of the game. The young lady was the only family member courageous enough to confront President Yoweri Museveni and ask him who really killed her sister.

The teenager does not leave her mother's side, holding her hand to comfort her. Dressed in a black skirt, T-shirt and sporting a short haircut, this chubby girl says not even her parents will stop her from following into her sister's footsteps.

"I want to stand and I am ready. I don't think my parents will refuse but if they do I will stand against their will. I just want to complete Cerinah's work," Kyalisiima told The Observer.

Yet Alice Namulwa Mukasa says she is not sure she is ready to hand over another member of her family to the dirty game that makes up politics.

"I handed government my daughter, they have brought for me a dead body. We need to first think and reach a consensus as a family with whoever will request to stand," Namulwa told The Observer.

The 18-year-old is a former student of Merryland High School in Entebbe where she sat for her UACE exams. Before that, she was in St Mary's SS Kitende were she completed her Senior Four. She says she wants to join Makerere University to study Law. She says the first step she is taking is to register as a voter because this is an important requirement for one to stand for elective politics in Uganda.

"I don't fear anyone; I don't fear that what happened to my sister can happen to me. Everything that happens is God's plan. Being young doesn't mean I cannot do anything in parliament. I want to continue lobbying for building of hospitals in Butaleja like she has been doing and also to fight corruption," Kyalisiima says.

She says that she has been thinking about following her sister and joining politics. It was only a matter of time before she could stand for elective politics which she was hoping to do after completing her education. But now, she says circumstances have dictated and she will study for her law degree alongside her political career.

Last moment with Nebanda

Kyalisiima said they left home together to go to the British High Commission to apply for a visa to the UK where they were to travel for Christmas holiday. That Friday, Nebanda was wearing a cream kitengi and blue accessories. The two sisters left the house without eating breakfast but stopped at Ban Cafe at Oasis mall for a quick meal. They then went to the High Commission and handed in their visa application forms and left.

Nebanda took her sister to her office at Parliament.

"They had a meeting with the President; so, she left me in her office. When she returned, she was interviewed by journalists and she was talking about corruption in the prime minister's office," Kyalisiima recalls.

Nebanda was headed to Speke Resort Munyonyo for a workshop and so she dropped Kyalisiima at a bus stop.

"She hugged me and said 'see you, bye' those were her last words to me," Kyalisiima recalls.

The next time Kyalisiima heard about her sister was when their mother informed them that Nebanda had been poisoned, she was dead. Namulwa says she met Nebanda in Munyonyo to get some money. That Friday, Nebanda was very fine with no signs of illness.

"We have been getting reports from people that we need to protect her, she is not young that we can lock her up in a room," Namulwa says.

At 5pm, a man called Namulwa using Nebanda's phone.

"I asked him who are you? And he said 'are you Cerinah's mother?'" he said, "Cerinah is in Nsambya hospital, come quick,'" Namulwa recalls. She drove back to Kampala from Entebbe and found Nebanda at Mukwaya General clinic in Nsambya - already dead.

Kyalisiima was bitter, broken. She cried but the tears did not give her answers. When President Yoweri Museveni visited her home, she gathered the courage to ask him the question that lingered on everyone's mind.

"I asked him why 'everyone says that your government killed my sister. I have been reading it everywhere on Facebook. He said that it's not true those people are just trying to spoil the name of government. I am not satisfied with what he said, it cannot just be ok that my sister was killed," Kyalisiima says.

Kyalisiima faces a tough road ahead and must work hard if she wants to fill the big shoes that her sister has left behind. However, Kyalisiima is not yet sure what party ticket she will hold when she stands for the post.

And for her to be eligible to stand as an MP, Kyalisiima would have to be a registered voter. She was not 18 when the last voter register exercise was conducted. She may eventually replace her sister; but she would probably have to wait a few years.

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