Parliament hails Joyce Mpanga
Parliament has paid tribute to Joyce Rovincer Mpanga, a former Member of Parliament and Minister, for her commendable contribution towards women's emancipation and the education sector.
Mpanga, 90, who passed away on Saturday 18 November 2023 was a celebrated educationist, women's rights activist and veteran politician having served in the pre-independence Legislative Council.
In a special sitting chaired by Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, on Tuesday 21 November 2023, MPs acknowledged Mpanga as the third girl to attain a university degree in East Africa, the first Ugandan woman to win a US Fulbright scholarship and the first female lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Makerere University.
“These achievements inspired a lot of young females to strive for admission at Makerere University. She later on pushed for affirmative action at public Universities that has since aided many girls to embrace education,” said, Rt. Hon. Rukia Nakadama, the Third Deputy Prime Minister, who moved the motion to pay tribute.
Mpanga’s career, according to Nakadama was admirable; rising from a classroom teacher to a cabinet minister, even though she lived at a time when society hardly promoted the participation of women in education, politics, and development.
The Leader of the Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga, who served with Mpanga in the Buganda Kingdom, reiterated her contribution to the review of education policies in Uganda.
“We shall remember her for her candid advice to President Museveni on the management of the education sector, the management of universal primary education, and non-regulation of fees in private schools,” Mpuuga said.
MPs who served with Mpanga in the 6th Parliament, where she represented Mubende district, hailed her as their mentor, utilizing her rich legislative experience to guide young MPs.
“In the 6th Parliament, I was a young girl and she was protective of me. She once called me and said now it's time to get married but you must be careful to get a good man. She said when you get to marriage you must be careful to balance politics and family,” said Hon. Naome Kabasharira (NRM, Ntungamo District Woman MP).
Kabasharira praised Mpanga saying she was widowed at an early age yet could balance politics and raise a prosperous family that includes a celebrated city lawyer, David F. Mpanga.
Lira East Division Jimmy Akena, the son of former President Milton Obote, thanked Mpanga for mentoring his mother, the then-first lady, Miria Obote, into politics.
“My mother went to Gayaza High School where she met Mpanga as the deputy headmistress. My mother was a very young girl but Mpanga raised her and introduced her to politics,” said Akena who was also a beneficiary of Mpanga’s generous counsel.
“Mpanga always reached out to people. I was privileged to host her on my day of swearing-in as a Member of Parliament. She sat me down and gave me a penetrative talk, sharing her political experience on what is expected of me as a leader,” Akena added.
In politics, the deceased was among the first females to join the pre-independence Legislative Council (LEGCO) in 1960, the first Minister for Women's Affairs in 1988, and the State Minister for Primary Education in 1991.
She was the founding member of the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA), the first chairperson of the Pan African Women Organization and Uganda Women’s Efforts to Save Orphans (UWESO).
Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, said that Parliament records [the Hansard], depict Mpanga as one who significantly fought against corruption and promoted the welfare of marginalized groups.
“I looked at the Hansard of 1999 where Parliament was considering the report of the committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries. She had very strong words for the corrupt and pushed so much to ensure the underprivileged were considered in whatever she was doing,” Tayebwa said.
The House passed the motion moved by Dokolo district Woman MP, Cecilia Ogwal, to name an institute on either education or gender in any public university after Joyce Mpanga.