Beti Kamya’s bumpy and long road keeps her busy

She is not afraid of limits or critics. Soft spoken, but ready to walk on the edge to defend her decision, even if the outcomes fall either way. At least that is what has marked Beti Olive Kamya’s journey into politics.

Shortly after her appointment as Inspector General of Government (IGG) last year, Ms Kamya launched the lifestyle audit, a strategy to intensify the war on corruption. Her appointing authority, President Museveni, cautioned her about the online system, but she maintained that her boss still wanted her to go after the corrupt.

“He only told me to be careful because when we are making investigations, we do not have to tell people. Some people do not want to declare their assets and that is why they have launched the online system,” she told journalists after the launch.

Even as Kamya assumed the role of the ombudsman, questions arose about her capability since she was replacing a seasoned judge, Justice Irene Mulyagonja, while she (Kamya) was from a business and political background. Nonetheless, she embraced the challenge.

“The road ahead will be bumpy and long, but we will make use of the anti-corruption laws in place to make things difficult for the corrupt. In any case, the President’s frustration with corruption is well-known and well documented, so I cannot afford to be partisan,” Kamya said then.

Even before she rose to that position, the road had been a long and bumpy one for her, at one time she had to traverse the country seeking votes in an attempt to take the highest office of the land, the presidency, under her federalism campaign.

Ms Kamya would emerge 5th with 52,782 votes in the 2011 presidential election. She had represented the Uganda Federal Alliance, a party that she founded.

Although her current job is nonpartisan, Kamya decided to focus her strength on mobilising for the ruling National Resistance Movement party, a decision she called ‘going back home’ much to the critics’ taunts of her being a mole and materialistic.

“The problem of Uganda is not President Museveni. I am joining a mass party that the people of Uganda find comfort in, especially in times of profiling security. If I choose to associate with one party, it should make not make me an enemy of the other,” she told a local television during an interview in 2020.

The NRM party did embrace her. She went on to serve as the Kampala minister from 2016 to 2019, and then shifted to the Lands docket, then presidential adviser before becoming IGG.

Kamya also sought to reclaim the Rubaga North seat in the 2021 general election under the NRM ticket. She had served the people of Rubaga from 2011 to 2016 while under FDC.  But this time round, she lost to National Unity Platform’s Abubaker Kawalya. 

According to the IGG website, Ms Kamya “espouses strong Christian values of loving God, loving and caring about fellow people; patriotism, Pan-Africanism and humanism; honesty, justice, trustworthiness and dependability; constitutionalism and rule of law.”

While she has demonstrated these values to fight thieves of public resources, the 66-year-old also uses them in her community and business life that started back in the 1980s.

Along with her late husband, Kamya worked in Uganda Leather and Tanning Industries in Jinja, was marketing manager at Uganda Breweries Limited, executive director of the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre before she joined Reform Agenda, which morphed into FDC.

Today, Ms Kamya gives out bursaries to the needy, helps women with community development projects such as poultry, among other initiatives that she introduced while still serving as legislator.