Writes BRIAN MUGENYI
“I served as youth chairperson for five years and later the passion to serve the society caught my attention and I moved on with the dream,” shares the Kalangala District Chairperson Rajab Ssemakula.
Ssemakula is the talk of town and his rise from boda boda riding to the District Chairperson seat is a story shared by the young and old men and women who entrusted the gigantic leader two years ago as an opposition candidate to drive their goals into definite plan.
In 2016; Kalangala community wanted to push for him as early as possible in the seat of Willy Lugolobi the then district chairperson but Ssemakula remained patient until two years ago and rose into the leadership.
Born to Ssemakula Hassan and Sauya Namuswe residents of Kikube Village, Mukono District; Ssemakula remains the first born in family of eight children.
He is married to Meron Nabiraro with whom they have produced six children.
“The leakage of information was the major source of my losing in the elections for Member of Parliament slot. It was meant to be confidential but my opponents swallowed the information prematurely and the advices I have had from the National Unity Platform president Robert Kyagulanyi has impacted my leadership career as the district chairperson, “said Ssemakula.
Ssemakula 47-years- old realized that if he couldn’t contest for any representative office in Kalangala he could lose relevancy in sharing knowledge and developmental ideas which prompted him to stand for speakership role in the beginning.
“I chose the Deputy Speakership position in the beginning and it drove my zeal into the District chairperson committee. My dreams and plans started to grow extensively from there and now when the public is achieving the best from our efforts and services offered,” he says.
He says the community convinced him to stand for leadership as service delivery was lacking and he has always been advised to take on the mantle of area Member of Parliament seat too.
Ssemakula attended Kakulu Primary School, Mbarara Demonstration School and Standard High School before attaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science at Islamic University.
Apparently; Ssemakuka is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration at Nkumba University and he has maintained the harmony and buried the hatchet in settling land and political conflicts within the area.
He shares that becoming the Kalangala District Chairperson came with a lot of opportunities as his dream was to serve the community.
As a District, Kalangala boast with 568 employees including the technical team and support staff.
“In the first phase we chose working on infrastructure development such as roads and we’re still grappling with less man power in road machinery;” he says.
As for clarity; Kalangala is ranked among the mostly affected districts with increasing rate of HIV/AIDS and they’re monitored on a monthly basis.
” I credit the Rakai Health science for their provisional health care and monitoring but the rate of people infected with HIV/ AIDS is alarming;” he said.
As the District; Kalangala’s employee wages worth 6billion every year accommodates 86 percent of the recruitment level.
“We still face limited space for pharmacists and Information Technology experts still lacking in the area;” he says.
According to Ssemakula limited wages of the employs makes the service delivery difficult.
To compete for the Member of Parliament slot was expensive. It came to Ssemakula’s attention when Captain Leon Lumaga advised him to stand for the District Chairperson instead.
It was heavily in 2020 when he stood for the District Chairperson role and the public fall for him.
” I was a National Unity Platform candidate. Most of the opponents were wholly supported by the government but I chose to remain neutral and serve with generosity;” he says adding.
” I had high support from the renowned opinion leaders such as Hajji Sulait Lutakome and Matias Kamya who all supported me; he says.
Ssemakula faced a lot of resistance from opponents Wickliff Mbaleba who needed the position of the District Chairperson.
“It has been a service to me. I rose from the poor background as a Boda Boda rider and becoming the District chairperson is an achievement for me; “he says.
The local community before had preferred Mr. Willy Bugolobi who had stayed long as the Kalangala District Chairperson but Ssemakula remained focused.
“I kept on roaring for more opportunities and most of his opponents lacked academic documents;” he says.
Before; he was a renowned National Resistance Movement party member (NRM) and closing to opposition came with a lot of opportunities.
Kalangala has 84 islands and 64 is reserved for human settlement.
However; Ssemakula won with 79 percent with 9000 votes and opponent Willy Lugolobi polled 5000 votes accordingly.
He says he chose to study Social Science and he majored in Political Science as a way of mastering the skills of governing the public.
” In Local Government it is service above self that counts in the community. In the last meeting we held with Hon. Kyagulanyi Ssentamu all were convinced about my governance and ability to work for the of the community; ” he says.
According to Ssemakula; Improving and monitoring of government programs all gave him the ability to work hard for the community.
” In Kalangala District it is the team work that counts mainly. I work peacefully with the Resident District Commissioner and the Chief Executive Officer Kyomya Friday has mentored us well,” he says.
Working closely with the government has impacted Ssemakula’s governance and today all government programs have been well utilized.
“The Health sector is one of the sectors that have benefitted a lot from government programs though Health Centers such as Kyamuswa health center IV are still grappling to get enough drugs and health workers.
As for clarity; Kalangala is a hard to reach District and they have been relying on 22billion granted to them by the government in every financial year.
“The Covid-19 occurrences impacted us heavily. The road and other infrastructures have been put in place as part of a success story for the area; ” he says.
Ssemakula credits the government for their good working relationship with them including extending government projects for the youths mostly such Youthlivelhood program.
“The community is fading away the referrals and many adopted buying drugs especially in Bujumba Constituency;” he says.
The health sector in Kalangala boost with 240 health workers and the recruitment process has been done extremely well on 89 percent rate thus far.
” We’re far beyond and we hope to be the best in the next financial year as far as monitoring government institutions and programs are concerned; ” he says.
According to Ssemakula majority of the population however cannot travel from one island to another and the appeals to government to extend health centers in all 84 island that makes up Kalangala District.
In all the six sub counties; Bujumbula, Mugoye and Kalangala Town Council, Bufumbira and Bubeke, Kyamuswa and Mazinga sub county; Ssemakula says the Myoga program wholly benefited the local community.
” The Myoga program has benefited the community and money was distributed wholly within the community; ” hesays.
Ssemakula shares that 33 Saccos benefitted from the Myoga project and 560 people benefitted well from the project.
The Women Entrepreneurship program (WEP) has benefited the women by empowering them with grants and trainings to cater for their well-being.
” Every year women benefit from the WEP program and over the last 15 years it has been a great success to all of them;” he shares.
The Youthlivelhood programs has been wholly implemented and 800 youths within Kalangala District benefited from the project.
Ssemakula says that the People with Disabilities (PWD) grant has benefitted the disabled and it has impacted their lives heavily.
“In all the ten groups among the (PW’s) 6 groups were given grants and each of them consist of 5 members; ” he shared.
The Elderly grant that was also introduced last year has impacted the lives of old men and women within Kalangala District.
“The grant had shs: 5m meant for each district and it was fully well utilized; “he shares.
According to Ssemakula; the Oil Palm project that boast with 75000 people under their umbrella body Oil Palm growers Trust has impacted the economic sector mainly in Kalangala District under the Agricultural Sector.
” The land is still limited in Kalangala. It is a huge problem and we’re considering investing in projects that needs small land,” he says.
According to Ssemakula; approximately 48 percent is reserved for land and 95 percent is reserved for water which makes other economic activities difficult to take place in the area.
“The lives of people in Kalangala has greatly changed and many women are involved in making brooms and farming remains the mostly preferred activity;” he says.
Ssemakula shares that they have connected well with the government and shs: 53billions were granted to the District for farmers in Oil Palm growing and many have succeeded with its returns.
Almost the majority of the population is engaged with fishing and the industry has grown and employs 80 percent of the population 75000 that makes up Kalangala District.
” Every boat use 3 people directly in fishing. Every single boat employs 20 people per day,” he says.
The population is mostly youths and most of them are less educated thereby resorting to fishing.
According to Kalangala District Chief Executive Officer (CAO) Friday Kyomya; they have realized improved services under the leadership of Ssemakula at the District level despite being opposition and they have united to sensitize all government projects among the local community.
” The services are fairly handled well and team work has been effected well in all the eight departments; production, commercial and education, engineering, water and procurement and others,” he says.
Mr Kyomya says the government recruited quality staff and they’re all well monitored.
“We strategized well especially with the Parish Development model and shs: 100m were spent on every parish;” he says.
Apparently Kalangala district is in conjunction with Revenue Integrated System in Administration to ensure effective delivery of taxi collected from locals.
“Kalangala has potential in tourism and a huge potential of growth is heavily realized;” added Kyomya who has exerted a huge focus on Parish Development Model (PDM) program and tourism to develop the lives of people economically.