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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Where are ‘First Ladies’ on this Presidential Campaign Trail?

I love women. If my confession is not enough, imagine the world without them!

That is how I feel as I see candidates moving around without their better halves.

Women represent more than 50 per cent of this country, and the fact that only Maureen Kyala is representing them on the 2016 road to State House is disappointing.

It is made worse that the male candidates are going around alone, as if they are bachelors.

Save for NRM candidate President Museveni who is moving with his wife Janet, the rest of the candidates have from nomination day abandoned their spouses!

That is why I miss the last election. I remember Winnie waving with her better half Kizza Besigye to the voters; Norbert Mao had his Naomi on the side smiling ear to ear; Bwanika showed off his wife in a gomesi. It was only the man who refused to vote for himself, Olara Otunnu that left us guessing if he would ever marry.

When Dr Besigye was on the campaign trail with the beautiful and intelligent Winnie Byanyima, some voters debated who would be president if they entered State House! What a pair Uganda would have had for the first family! Wouldn’t it be a case of “buy one, take two”?

Fast forward and Winnie is busy with her job at Oxfam International. I wonder whether it pains her not to be on her husband’s campaign. However, judging by the criticism of the meeting between Besigye and Amama Mbabazi in London at Kofi Annan’s foundation, where she took on the group that had no woman in attendance as they attempted to agree on a single ticket deal, it gives the impression Winnie is a sideshow to this election and a bystander like the rest of us.

Then there is Jacqueline Mbabazi. She must have waited for this moment for so long. She was supposed to be with Amama Mbabazi, like she has always been in the past. She must be really hurting. When Jackie was reported ill, the development made us miss her energy and fearlessness. Mbabazi talked about her after his nomination, surely, he must also be missing her.

Jacqueline on Mbabazi’s side, maybe, could have changed the game in JPAM’s camp. Her fire, strength and charisma are what team Go Forward must indeed be missing. We pray for her quick recovery.

Other candidates such as Joseph Mabirizi, Abed Bwanika and Gen Biraaro have not bothered to show us voters who would be “First Lady” in case they won the race. Needless to say, First Ladies matter. See what Michelle Obama in US or Jeannette Kagame in Rwanda are doing.

It does not matter if a candidate’s spouse is as political as Janet Musveni or Jacqueline Mbabazi, or not; but their solidarity and inspiration to society means a lot.

We voters also want to know if your family is behind you. That gives us confidence.

It is one thing to ask us your vote, it is another for your household to trust you with the country if you are not good enough for their own home.

My concern is, if you cannot convince your wife to join you on the campaign trail, how do you expect us to ride with you on this blazing campaign journey?

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