As Mpuuga handed over the leadership reins to his “young brother” Ssenyonyi, he concluded with a message of unity and collaboration, expressing hope that history would record their convergence for the common good.
During Parliament’s plenary session on Tuesday, January 9, 2024, Mathias Mpuuga, the former Leader of Opposition in Parliament (LOP), took the opportunity to apologize for any offense caused by his leadership style during his two-and-a-half-year term. The Nyendo-Mukungwe MP, known for his non-confrontational and amiable approach, expressed regret while performing his final roles as LOP.
Mpuuga, aged 48, had been replaced by Nakawa West MP Joel Ssenyonyi in December 2023, as announced by the National Unity Platform (NUP) party president, Robert Kyagulanyi. Critics within NUP had accused Mpuuga of playing soft politics, deviating from the perceived path of advocating for regime change in Uganda. Despite the criticism, Mpuuga had established himself as a strong yet non-confrontational LOP.
The former opposition leader used his farewell speech to express his gratitude for the opportunity to serve the country. He acknowledged the challenges and differences within the NUP but emphasized the importance of unity in achieving common goals.
Mpuuga urged the House to extend support to his successor, Joel Ssenyonyi, describing him as a reasonable young leader. He emphasized the need for the Opposition, especially the young and growing NUP party, to work together for a better future. Mpuuga’s parting advice included the presentation of a book titled “How to Hug a Porcupine,” edited by Dr. Debbie Ellis, to Ssenyonyi.
In sharing the wisdom from the book, Mpuuga likened difficult people to porcupines, emphasizing the importance of setting boundaries, effective communication, and not taking things personally. He encouraged Ssenyonyi to focus on the positive, practice patience, and seek support from colleagues, highlighting the collaborative nature required for effective leadership in the political arena.