Mityana. When Francis Zaake Butebi was born on January 12, 1991, little did anyone around him anticipate he would be a main character in the county’s high-stake and tragic political drama.
But Zaake’s strong will and desire to go his own way manifested early in life.
At a tender age when most students would gladly go by their parents dictates, little Zaake forced his parents to shift him from St Lawrence Secondary School at Lubaga in Kampala, to Modern Secondary School in Mityana, where he completed his Ordinary Level education.
But Zaake also set himself early on the path of student leadership.
His father, Mr Emmanuel Butebi, says Zaake started his primary education in Mityana, enrolling at Butebi Primary School, and later joining Fairway Primary School in Kampala, where he was elected class captain, and later school head boy.
At St Lawrence S.S., Zaake’s earlier leadership paid off as he was again elected prefect and one of the leaders of Nkobazambogo, a popular Buganda youth wing grouping.
Zaake carried his student leadership to Maryland High School, Kigungu in Entebbe, where he completed his Advanced level education. Here he went a ladder higher, serving as president of Nkobazambogo.
By the time he became Member of Parliament for Mityana Municipality, 27-year-old Zaake was a second year student at Ndejje University, Kampala campus, and also its students’ guild president.
“In fact he only completed his third year in Procurement and Logistics Management course when he was one-year old in the Parliament of Uganda,” says his father, a city businessman and one of the richest people in Mityana.
Zaake graduated in October 2016.
MP Zaake is also known for his openhandedness to needy students, the sports fraternity and places of worship across denominations.
Mr Nooh Karamwa, the speaker of Busimbi Division in Mityana Municipality, who is familiar with Zaake’s family, says the MP has extended his charitable character to his constituency through his Zaaka Zivuge Foundation.
“Through his charity, there are 40 students that he has supported with bursaries and for the very poor Universal Primary School pupils, he has a scheme that donates books at the beginning of every term,” Mr Karamwa says.
Being an active sports fan, Zaake also donated club uniforms to village football and netball teams and made them proud competitors against visiting or host teams.
Churches and mosques too have been among the big beneficiaries of his liberal gifts, with Busimbi All Saints Anglican Church and Busimbi Catholic Church recently receiving 300 bags of cement.
“Right now, we are working with the Ministry of Works and Transport to ensure we get road equipment from government to grade all our roads,” lawyer Kamya Ssenyonga, who is the MP’s supporter, says.
For all the village self-help groups, Mr Zaake has also donated saucepans and plates to ease food service at community gatherings in his constituency.
To boost household food security, the youthful MP has instituted a scheme that donates quality seed popularly known in the area as ensigo za Zaake (Zaake’s seeds).
The MP believes that leadership is not about the next election but rather the next generation.
“That is why I offer my energy to strive for the liberation of my country. Today is our generation and not tomorrow,” he recently said.
Mr Zaake had then said he will never be impended by the challenges but rather such would provide him with resilience to achieve his goals.
“When the going gets tough, the tough must get going. When freedom of expression becomes the target of suppression, opposition becomes our targets,” he said.
Mr Zaake’s strong will and unbending beliefs have twice almost cost him life.
The first attempt was when former Inspector General of Police acknowledge that he had sent commandoes to Parliament to quell rowdy opposition MPs who were resisting the lifting of the cap on the presidential age limit.
Mr Zaake was then badly beaten and sent to an American hospital for specialised treatment.
Masaka Woman MP Babirye Kabanda sees her colleague as a strategic leader who has sacrificed a lot to free spaces of popular participation in Uganda’s politics.
For his pains for struggle for liberty, Mr Zaake remains in intensive care unit in a hospital in India, having been flown out for specialised treatment on Monday.