During the first post Idi Amin national elections in 1980, Dr. Crispus Kiyonga participated as a Parliamentary candidate on the Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM) ticket.
He won the election, making him the only UPM candidate who emerged victorious during those elections.
Kiyonga (pictured above) joined the National Resistance Army (NRA) during its struggle against the second Milton Obote regime from 1981 until 1986. He did not assume his sit in Parliament with all the privileges that came alongside being an MP. That action alone made him extraordinary.
From 1986, when the NRM assumed power, until 2006 when he was appointed as Minister of Defense, Kiyonga held several cabinet and non-cabinet posts in the Ugandan Government:
- 1986: Minister for Cooperatives & Marketing
- 1986 – 1992: Minister of Finance – Credited with the establishment of Uganda Revenue Authority.
- 1994 – 1996: Minister of Internal Affairs
- 1996 – 2001: Minister of Health – Credited with efficient handling of Ebola outbreak in Gulu in 2000. Chairman Global Fund.
- 2001 – 2006: Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the President and National Political Commissar.
- 2006 – 2016: Minister of Defense
Between 1992 and 1994, Kiyonga left the government temporarily to serve as a consultant with the World Bank and the African Development Bank.
He returned to active politics in 1994 when he was elected to the Constituent Assembly (CA) that drew up the 1995 Uganda Constitution. He continuously represented Bukonzo County West in the Ugandan Parliament from 1980 until 2016. In 2016, he was appointed Uganda’s Ambassador to China.
Amb. Kiyonga is a revolutionary who has devoted his life to work for the NRM party and the country in any position and deployment by President Yoweri Museveni.
He possesses a Master’s degree in Health Management from John Hopkins University, USA.
In May 1998, Dr. Kiyonga formally invited the US Army to conduct HIV and malaria research within Uganda.
A program for vaccine research and development began in 1998 with the US Military HIV Research Program (MHRP) and the Henry M Jackson Foundation (HJF) forming a partnership with Makerere University.
Initial collaborations were with the Rakai Project (currently the Rakai Health Sciences Program), a collaboration between Columbia University, John Hopkins University, Makerere University (MU) and the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) where the focus was development of infrastructure and definition of cohorts.
In June 2002, a memorandum of understanding between Makerere University and The Henry M. Jackson Foundation was signed for establishment of Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP) as a non-profit partnership for purposes of conducting collaborative HIV and other research studies.
Since 1998, collaborative HIV research between Makerere University and the MHRP has focused on development of infrastructure, definition of cohorts, acquisition of appropriate products for evaluation, and clinical evaluation of these products.
The core of the Makerere University Walter Reed Program’s effort has been to accomplish all activities required for initiation of phase III trials.
A key component of these activities has been provision of HIV care including anti-retroviral treatment (ARV) through funding under the PEPFAR Program.
Since 2007, MUWRP has broadened their scope of work to address other communicable disease threats as well.
MUWRP is a company, limited by guarantee with no share capital, registered in Uganda under the companies Act on June 5, 2002 guaranteed by two organizations namely; The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for advancement of Military Medicine Inc. of Bethesda, USA and Makerere University of Kampala, Uganda.
Kiyonga has been an ardent advocate for food security; Cassava/ Sweet potatoes/ bananas/ pineapples/ mangoes etc that are synonymous with his name in Kasese district.
Through his “NEW MONEY” project, income from coffee is growing to Shs60bn per annum, compared to cotton which brings only Shs10b to our famer’s coffers.
He has worked hard together with other stakeholders to replace 60% of the old coffee trees in Kasese district which had been devastated by the coffee wilt disease and leaf rust. Most of these trees were planted during the colonial times.
He is also credited with lobbying for the partnership with Lafarge East Africa (Hima Cement) in a project that has boosted the incomes of over 45,000 smallholder farmers in Kasese.
He vigorously championed the distribution of 14,200,000 coffee seedlings to coffee farmers through their farmer groups and as individual farmers in Kasese.
While he was at the Ministry of Health, Ebola was vigorously tackled under his stewardship.
Encounter in Beijing
The few moments I interacted with him while at the Uganda Embassy in Beijing in 2018, I came to learn that he is simply perceived by some naïve people to be unfriendly because he is a straight forward and clear minded leader who serves the interests of the people but not individuals.
In my interactions, I realized that he is incorruptible; it’s on record that he is one of the few ministers that have never been involved in any corruption Scandal.
He is a workaholic. I remember him tasking the leader of delegation I had travelled with to deliver a report within one day of arrival back in Uganda, definitely that was me who had to do it. His performance output is unmatched compared to other politicians in Kasese.
Kiyonga is consistent and honest.
He possesses great lobbying skills. During his time in Parliament, he lobbied for the establishment of Bwera Hospital, the Gravity Water Scheme, boosted the Agricultural sector among others.
He has a great network both within the country and all around the World. He is a time tested leader with vast experience.
The former minister is a pioneer cadre of the NRM who understands it better than anyone else in Kasese. Therefore, he acts as a direct link between Kasese and the Chairman of the ruling party.
He had deep intellectual propositions that many took for a joke such as rearing of rabbits, establishment of fish ponds etc to be sources of proteins, trade and control of fish depletion from lakes Edward and George.
By Baluku Ronald Busimba. The author is author a youth advocate from Rwenzori Sub-Region.