Former tourism minister Maria Mutagamba who succumbed to liver cancer on Saturday evening at a Kampala hospital has been described as a hard working leader who worked to transform many lives.
A requiem mass was held for the deceased former minister and long serving MP at Rubaga Cathedral in Kampala.
Mourners described Mutagamba as a committed leader dedicated to service above self. She will be buried on Wednesday at her ancestral home in Gamba village, Rakai district.
Mutagamba was born in Rakai District on 5 September 1952. She studied at St. Aloysius Senior Secondary School in Bwanda, Kalungu District for her O-Level studies (1967–1970).
She then attended Mount Saint Mary’s College Namagunga in Mukono District for her A-Level education (1971–1972). She attended Makerere University from 1973 until 1976, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in economics.
She also held a Diploma in computer programming from the ICL Computer School in Nairobi, Kenya, obtained in 1980, and a certificate in executive leadership from the John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, obtained in 1997.
In 2013, she was presented with an honorary doctorate in law by McMaster University in Canada.
Mutagamba served as a banking officer with the Bank of Uganda from 1976 to 1980 and was a director of the bank from 1991 until 1999.
She was a Constituent Assembly delegate between 1994 and 1995. In 1999–2000, she was the deputy secretary general of the Democratic Party of Uganda. In 2000, she was appointed minister of state for water resources and later in 2006 was appointed minister of water and the environment, a position she held until 2012.
She was the President of the African Ministers’ Council on Water from 2004 to 2012 and coordinator of the Global Women Leaders Forum for Water and Sanitation from 2005 to 2012.
She also was vice chairperson of United Nations Task Force on Integrated Water Resource Management.
She was known for her works for the cause of water-related issues and Global Water Harvesting Network.
Mutagamba served as Minister of tourism, wildlife and antiquities from 15 August 2012 until 6 June 2016. She was replaced by Ephraim Kamuntu as minister in 2016.
As Minister of tourism, she was best known for promoting Rolex; a popular Ugandan egg, vegetables and chapati wrap. She also revived the Miss Tourism Uganda beauty pageant which had earlier been organized in 2010. She had quit active politics in 2016 due to her health issues.
She was married to Tarsis Matthew Mutagamba who worked for the Bank of Uganda for 17 years until his retirement in 1980. He was the first African chief accountant at the bank. Tarsis died from heart failure on 2 January 2004 at the age of 70. He was survived by 16 children.
Mutagamba died on 24 June 2017 at Case Medical Centre in Kampala from complications of liver cancer, although she also suffered from gallstones.
She was 64 years old. She was admitted to hospital three weeks before her death. Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda called her death “a great loss to the country”