Posted on February 18, 2016
Comments Off on Ugandan’s go to the Polls
It’s just over three months ago, last November, that I (Kunle) travelled to Uganda. On the road journey from Entebbe airport to Jinja, our destination, we got stuck in a traffic jam in the outskirt of Kampala. The 80 Kilometre Kampala to Jinja road trip is at any time notorious for its traffic, as it is the only road that goes eastwards from the capital. On that Tuesday what should have been a ninety minutes journey took us five hours. We were stuck in the election campaign traffic. No one had warned us that the Uganda presidential election campaign was already at full steam even though it was still three months away at the time. On that November evening we were stuck behind the campaign convoy of the leader and presidential candidate of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). Kizza Besigye has interesting credentials, a medical doctor, politician and former military officer in the Uganda People’s Defence Force. In fact he was the personal physician of the then guerrilla leader of the National Resistance Army, Yoweri Musegeni who became the President of Uganda in 1986. It is his fourth time of contesting the presidency against his former boss.
Today, Thursday 18th February, the people of Uganda go to the polls to elect a new President. But the voters can make their choice from more than the two former comrades. There are eight candidates contesting the presidency including Amama Mbabazi, Prime minister until 2014 when he was sacked following a dispute with Museveni over presidential succession. He now leads the Go Forward party. Among the five other candidates is the only woman, Maureen Faith Waluube Kyalya. She is 41 years and a lawyer who studied at the University of Portsmouth in the UK. Her critics have noted that she has spent a great part of her life living in the UK. Maureen’s campaign highlights her fight against poverty in Busoga region. This is a region that needs support in the fight against poverty. Our trip to Uganda last November was to celebrate 10 years of ACT working in Uganda to fight poverty among orphans and widows who are perhaps the neediest in the country. Our work ten years ago of supporting five orphan children through primary, secondary and university education has expanded to nearly two hundred disadvantaged children across Busoga region. Also, our work among widows has empowered many women whose lives have been transformed through our widows’ project training them to set up sustainable income generating schemes.
Today’s election matters because Uganda has been a stable country in the eastern Africa sub region after years of internal strife and civil wars. It is a critical regional state and plays a key role in both South Sudan and Burundi. More importantly with a 38 million population that is predominantly under 20 – the average age in Uganda is 15, there is need to tackle the faltering economy and to create jobs for this growing youth bulge, adding to the estimated 10 million people who are considered “unemployed” even though many are engaged in subsistence agriculture in rural areas. ACT wants nothing but peace and prosperity for the wonderful people of Uganda.