By Julius Kalema
Before the start of the 2021 election period, Manjeri Kyebakutikka, now the Jinja City Woman MP elect was a surviving as a hawker in Jinja Central Market.
January 14 however saw her become the pioneer MP of the newly created Jinja City after trouncing seven others in a majorly two man race with NRM’s Annet Musika and the rest is now history.
In a telephone conversation with the Homeland Newspaper, Manjeri shares her story which we bring you in this article.
Who is Manjeri Kyebakutikka?
She was born in Bugembe town council Jinja in 1992. She attended ST Paul Primary School in Jinja for his Primary leaving before joining Nakanyonyi Girl’s School, also in Jinja for both her O and A’ levels.
She joined Uganda Christian University where she graduated with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. She also has a Master’s in Public Administration from Makerere University.
Journey in politics/ leadership
At UCU, Manjeri had been a member of the Guild Parliament representing the BBA course. She was also the Foreign Affairs Minister during that very tenure.
Having failed to find employment despite possessing all the required qualifications, Kyebakutikka resorted to hawking in Jinja as the only way of making ends meet.
She says her experience in the market had a very big impact on her mindset on leadership.
The biting poverty, the poor service delivery, low prices for agricultural products and unemployment is all that informed her decision to join Kyagulanyi’s People Power Movement before it metamorphosed into NUP.
On the road to attaining the NUP, she faced a stiff competition from Mariah Namuwanga who most NUP electoral officials had favoured on the account of being more financially dependable that a struggling Kyebakutikka.
“My greatest weakness turned out to be a strength of the sort. The people of Jinja supported me merely because I was poor. They knew this made me understand their concerns more than any other person would have. I am a direct product of their efforts thus a real servant of the people,” she reminisces.
What lies ahead?
Despite the fact that she is the only one that triumphed as MP from Busoga, Manjeri still feels the pain of most pf his fellow party members who missed out. She mentions Kamuli Municipality’s Moses Bigirwa, Jinja West’s Waiswa Alex Mufumbiro, Bugweri’s Mercy Walukamba among others as people that would have made a great difference in the next parliament.
She however vows to leave all that in the past as she prepares to take up the leadership responsibility upon the region to make sure the encouraging dominance of NUP in the just concluded elections is not lost but rather consolidated.
On what she thinks needs to be done for the young party to remain vibrant ahead of the next general election, Kyebakutiika says emphasis must be put on building strong party structures which will help win more seats for NUP.
Being the only NUP MP from the sub region, she says she will need the backing of her party to build on the 2021 gains and help NUP percolate to the grass roots.
She however says she is so grateful to the Jinja people who trusted her with the responsibility and opportunity of being their leader and pledges not to disappoint them.