KAMPALA, UGANDA - There are eleven candidates running for president in Uganda's January election but just one — Nancy Kalembe — is a woman.
Kalembe said Uganda needs a change of leadership after 34 years of President Yoweri Museveni and she believes she's the right woman for the job.
Kalembe said the country’s healthcare, education, infrastructure, and jobs are sorely lacking.
She blames Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, and said he is behaving like the dictators he once helped topple.
“He said his first act of kindness and love for this country was to go to the bush and fight for our freedom, the Ugandans," Kalembe said. "At the time, I was six years old. My opinion would have been that the next best act of kindness is to hand over power peacefully.”
But Museveni has a great deal of support in Uganda — even in Busoga region, where Kalembe is from.
She is appealing to those who have not seen their lives improve under Museveni’s rule.
A 2017 survey of Ugandan households showed 75% of Busoga’s people are poor compared to a 63% national average.
Aida said, we are widows taking care of children singlehandedly. Our children go to school, she said, but we are not able to do more to better their future. So I appeal to all women in Uganda; this is our moment, she said. We have a female speaker, let the president be a woman.
In 1994, Uganda became the first African country to have a female vice president and Kalembe is the fourth woman to try for Uganda’s highest office.
But a 2016 Research World International poll showed 53% of respondents said Uganda was safer in the hands of a male president.
Analysts say it will take time for Ugandans to accept the possibility of a woman president. Perry Aritua is executive director of Women’s Democracy Network-Uganda.
“Regardless of whether it’s a man or woman who gets elected, the important thing for the voter should be how they perform," Aritua said. "Are they able to transform the lives of the people whom they have elected to represent using the mandate they have?”
While no woman candidate has ever come close to becoming Uganda’s president, Kalemebe hopes her campaign will at least keep alive the idea of a real change in leadership.