Nancy Kalembe is the only women candidate in Uganda’s General Election that kicked off Thursday morning.
There are 11 candidates seeking to oust President Yoweri Museveni who has been in power for the last 35 years.
During her campaigns, Ms Kalembe, who is running as an independent candidate, has been maintaining that Uganda needs a change of leadership from that of President Museveni adding she believes she’s the right woman for the job.
She blames Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, for the economic woes currently facing the country. Economic recovery features prominently in Ms Kalembe’s plan if she is elected as the country’s top executive.
In her presidential campaign manifesto 2021-2026 under the theme “leaving no one behind”, Ms Kalembe talks about building a strong and vibrant economy.
The youthful presidential aspirant notes that youths must be empowered to improve locally owned companies through the expansion of road network, water access, internet connectivity and electricity access.
“I want to serve and change peoples mind-sets to participate in the economy and also benefit from it with their abilities and skills,” Ms Kalembe says in her manifesto.
She adds that her focus will also be channeled to improving healthcare, education, infrastructure, and creation of jobs.
On infrastructure, Ms Kalembe has promised a transport recovery plan if elected. She observes that the development of water, railway and road transport networks have previously focused on where resources are, hence leaving out certain people particularly those living in rural areas from contributing and accessing from the economy.
She has also promised a robust post-Covid-19 recovery plan focusing on helping thousands of businesses affected by the pandemic get back on their feet if she is elected to the country’s highest office.
Following the Covid-19 pandemic, many parts of the world including Uganda were on lockdown which affected the economy.
Her plan entails empowering community businesses, farming, job creation, land security and putting in place response teams for disasters and pandemics.
Ms Kalembe says the Covid-19 lockdown affected businesses and there is need to put in place interventions if any, like stimulating business recovery and sustained resilience.
“Even though the government has partially lifted the lockdown, many businesses are yet to recover from the effects of the deadly pandemic. They need to be helped to get back on their feet,” she noted.
Fighting land grabbing
Stopping land grabbing in the agricultural rich country is also top on her agenda arguing due to land grabbing in Uganda, people cannot produce goods and contribute to the economy.
She says by minimising on land grabbing, many Ugandans will have collateral to business or merge with others who have the human and financial capital to start up small firms in the country.
She will, however, have to contend with a 2016 Research World International poll that showed 53 per cent of respondents in Uganda saying they were safer in the hands of a male president.
Born 41 years ago, Ms Kalembe is a Bachelor of Science in Population Studies graduate from Makerere University.
In a past interview with a local media station in November last year, Ms Kalembe dismissed calls to have her get married saying she needed God and not a husband to give her identity.
Robert Kyagulanyi popularly known as Bobi Wine of the National Unity Platform is however seen as the major challenger to the 76-year-old president and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) party.
The 38-year-old ragga star has used his popularity with Uganda’s youthful population to endear himself to the masses thus posing a major threat to Museveni’s 35 years in power.
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Uganda is an overwhelmingly young country with two-thirds of registered voters being younger than 30.
While security forces have cracked down on the opposition at previous polls, the run-up to this year’s vote has been especially violent.
In November last year, 54 people were killed as soldiers and police quelled protests after Mr Wine was arrested.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres early this week called on Ugandan authorities, particularly the security forces, to respect human rights in the run-up to the presidential election after one the bloodiest election campaigns in decades.
“I encourage all political actors and their supporters to publicly commit to conduct their political activities peacefully and refrain from incitement to violence or hate speech,” Guterres spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.