Amama Mbabazi, S.C. (born: John Patrick Mbabazi; alias: Ahmed Mbayo, Dr. Karyaburo) was the 10th Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda and a founder of the National Resistance Movement (political sibling to the National Resistance Army that came to power in 1986). He has served as its Secretary General from 2005, when the National Delegates Conference of the NRM party elected him with a 70% majority. His second and final term, which began in 2011, will be completed in 2016.
He has served in government since 1986 in various capacities beginning as Director General of ESO (1986-1992). He held three major ministerial posts as Minister of Security (2006-2011), Minister of Defence (2001-2006) and Attorney General (2004-2005), holding the latter two positions at the same time and earning him the epithet “Super Minister”. He currently serves as the Member of Parliament for Kinkizi West, a position he has occupied since 1996.
A graduate of Makerere University and lawyer by profession, Amama was secretary of the Uganda Law Council (1977-1978) and later a partner in the law firm, Kategaya, Mbabazi and Tumwesigye, Advocates (1981). He was among those that assisted in the drawing up of the fourth constitution of the Republic of Uganda, adopted in 1995.
Birth and Parentage
Amama was born on January 16th, 1949 in Cocezo, Kabale. His father Kezekiah Bagowabo was a livestock farmer who would later go on to become a trader, ferrying his goods from Southwestern Uganda into Kampala. His mother Peres Nyinakabaka was a farmer and the daughter of Rusi, a royal woman from Kooki who was kidnapped by Arab settlers and nearly sold into slavery. She ended up, instead, under the care of a man called Rwamuhanda (from Kabale) who she later married.
Like many Ugandans from the 1900s onwards, Amama’s parents were fundamentally changed by the Christian Revival. They dedicated much of their time to the Church of Uganda as catechists and evangelists. Both lived considerably long lives, dying, respectively, at the ages of approximately 97 and 105.
After spending much of his childhood as a herd’s boy, Amama began his first formal education experience in 1957 at a church school in Kabale town called Murwere. He attended this school with Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile and Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, two of his oldest friends. In 1958 he moved on to Kihanga Primary School and thereafter, in 1959, Kigezi High School Lower (Kigugwe) where he spent 6 years not only as a student but an avid singer and member of the school choir. Amama’s love of athletics began here, too, with a focus on hurdles and later on rugby. Despite being a strong athlete and having competed at regional levels, he was not permitted to participate in the Commonwealth Games of 1962 in Perth, Australia on account of his young age. Later on whilst at Kigezi High School Upper, he would compete against John Akii-Bua on a national level, coming second place in a race that went on to determine the Ugandan Olympic hurdles representative.
His A-levels were completed at Ntare School (Mbarara), an institution renowned both for its high standard of education and lack of school rules under its Scottish headmaster Mr. Crichton.
From Ntare, Amama moved on to Makerere University (1972) where he undertook a Bachelor of Laws (LLB). He joined campus politics almost immediately and supported Olara Otunnu for guild presidency during his first year as a student but Otunnu had to flee the country (on account of harassment by the Amin regime). During his second year, Amama decided to give the guild presidency a go but the guild was shut down, by consensus of its members, in protest of the brutality of Amin and his government. He married Jacqueline Susan Ruhindi, a first year student, in 1974 and moved off campus to live in Kitante courts. After attaining a Bachelor of Laws, he went on to undertake a Bar course at the Law Development Centre (LDC) which he successfully completed in 1976.
FRONASA, the National Resistance Movement and Exile
Amama had begun to recruit and coordinate activities for FRONASA (Front for National Salvation) whilst still at Makerere. From 1974 to 1979 he was the Head of the Internal Operations in Front for National Salvation (FRONASA). Throughout the aforementioned period, he linked up with Yoweri Kaguta Museveni whom he would regularly sneak out of the country to meet under the name and identity of Ahmed Mbayo.
In 1979, after the Amin regime was overthrown, Amama worked as the Director of Legal Services in the Uganda National Liberation Army. During this time he carried out various security duties and operations with fellow UNLA members including the recruitment and military training of NRA combatants in friendly countries. He also established and ran various clandestine study groups.
The emergence of Milton Obote as successor to Idi Amin following a military coup did not bring about the democracy FRONASA had hoped for. On February 5, 1981 Amama led a reconnaissance mission consisting of the late Sam Magara, the late Akanka Byaruhanga and Gen. Jeje Odong, to prepare for the raid of Kabamba Barracks that would give NRA the first 27 guns used to begin a second liberation.
The National Resistance Movement was formed in June 1981 alongside the National Resistance Army (its military wing). The group was an amalgamation of PRA (Popular Resistance Army) led by Yoweri Museveni, Amama and others, and UFF (Uganda Freedom Fighters) led by Professor Yusuf Lule.
Later that year, Amama fled to Nairobi with his wife and four children in an effort to escape the clutches of the Obote regime, where he continued to do the work of coordinating activities for FRONASA under what became known as the External Wing. In 1984 the family moved on to Sweden, returning in 1987 after NRMs ascendance to power.
Use of Social Media
Amama was the first prolific figure in Ugandan politics to become an active user of social networks, using them to engage the public on salient matters. He was voted, by the annual twitter poll known as ‘Twiplomacy’, the most conversational world leader on Twitter for three years in a row (2012, 2013 and 2014) followed by contemporaries such as Paul Kagame and Barack Obama. In 2012, at the height of the ‘Kony 2012’ campaign by Invisible Children, Amama used YouTube to clarify certain facts about the LRA insurgency and the state of Northern Uganda.
In early 2015 he was voted ‘Most Influential Personality’ at the Uganda SMA’s (Social Media Awards). He currently has about 79,000 Twitter followers and 31,000 Facebook page “likes”.
Amama was married to Jacqueline Susan Ruhindi on January 4th, 1974. They met whilst the latter was at Bweranyangi Senior Secondary School in 1969. Amama, together with other students, had gone to Bweranyangi to participate in a play.
In 1972, whilst Jacqueline was doing her A-Levels at Trinity College Nabbingo, Amama formally recruited her into the Liberation Struggle. They would meet again at Makerere University in 1973 when Jacqueline was a first year student (biochemistry) and Amama in his second year of LLB. They have 6 children and 11 grandchildren.
Political and Professional Achievements (CV)
i) Amama Mbabazi is currently:
Secretary General, NRM
Chairperson, Historical High Command
Member of Parliament for Kinkizi West
ii) Amama Mbabazi is:
S.C. (Senior Counsel)
Member of the Uganda Law Society (1977 to date)
Lawyer and advocate of the courts of Judicature-High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Uganda (1977 to date)
iii) He has served as:
Prime Minister (2011-2014)
Minister of Security (2006-2011)
Minister of Defence (2001-2006)
Attorney General (2004-2005)
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in Charge of Regional Cooperation (1997-2001)
Minister of State in the Office of the President in Charge of Political Affairs (1996-1997)
Minister of State for Defence (1992-1996)
Director General External Security Organisation (1986-1992)
Director Legal Affairs, Uganda National Liberation Army (1979-1980)
State Attorney in the Attorney General’s Chambers (1977-1978)
Head of Internal Operations for FRONASA (1974-1979)
iv) He was:
Constituent Assembly (CA) Delegate (1994-1995)
Chairperson Movement Caucus in the CA (1994-1995)
Chairperson Movement Parliamentary Caucus (1996-1997)
Chairman of the NRM Manifesto Committee (2005)
Chairman of the NRM Constitutional Committee that drafted the NRM Constitution
v) He was:
Secretary of the Uganda Law Council (1977-1978)
A partner in the law firm, Kategaya, Mbabazi and Tumwesigye, Advocates (1981)
vi) Amama Mbabazi has been awarded:
The Nalubale Medal and the Kagera Medal for distinguished service in the struggle against Dictatorship in Uganda
vii) Amama Mbabazi has:
Beyond his official positions and titles, carried out numerous and varied assignments as a Special Envoy of Uganda:
- Defended Uganda at the UN Security Council against accusations contained in the panel of Experts Report on alleged illegal exploitation of resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo
- Defended among others, Uganda at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) – at the Hague in the case of DRC vs Uganda
- Elected Chairman of the Political Committee of the Lusaka Accord
Held and holds various other public positions, including chairing Boards of Directors of several parastatal and private business ventures in Uganda
viii) At Kigezi High School Upper, he:
- Competed against John Akii-Bua on a national level, coming second place in a race that went on to determine the Ugandan Olympic hurdles representative.
ix) At Ntare School, he was:
- Deputy Headboy
- House Captain
- Chess Champion
- Member of the debating club