By Mulengera Reporters
Ordinarily 23-year-old Olivia Namwase (ON) is a school going girl at KIU where she is reading law. She is having her eyes on the Luuka Woman MP Seat currently occupied by Presidency Minister Easter Mbulakubuza Mbayo whose political fortunes have rapidly been cracking having failed to cultivate a good working relationship with fellow big-name leaders from Busoga. Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, the populous region’s undisputed chief king maker, is among those Mbayo doesn’t comfortably see eye to eye with.
Even when she is their direct supervisor, there are RDCs in Busoga sub region with whom the same Mbayo isn’t on good terms with. This partly is the reason why Namwase’s controversial declaration of interest to oust her in 2021 has created mixed reactions. Whereas Mbayo’s diehard supporters, who have benefited from tenure, dismissively say she is a mere young girl being recruited to fight proxy wars she doesn’t understand, Mbayo local adversaries are optimistic all the big-name political actors whose toes Mbayo has stepped on will potentially be prepared to come on board (directly and indirectly) to galvanize political support for the young girl from KIU.
In a recent media interview, the risk-taking Namwase explained why the time is now and not 5 years later as some of Mbayo’s supporters have been urging her on grounds she is still young. The following is how her maiden media interview proceeded:
QN: Are you a born of Luuka District?
ON: Yes, I hail from Nairika Village; Bukooma Sub-County, Luuka District
QN: Many have lost MP Seats on grounds of inadequate academic qualifications. How do you stand in that area?
ON: I qualified with a PLE Certificate at Kasokoso Primary School Iganga in 2008 [and]
I did my Senior 4 in 2012 at Iganga Parents SSS. My Senior 6 [was] at Lugazi Homeland College in 2014. Thereafter I joined Kampala International University in 2016 where I have done a Law Degree Course.
QN: Why have you chosen to join politics and specifically going to Luuka to antagonize the Minister?
ON: I am intrigued by the high levels of poverty among our people. I am always disturbed when I listen to the public discourse about impoverishment of my area moreover caused largely by factors linked to poor representation. Some of our leaders have failed to take advantage of the strengths and opportunities abundantly existing in our area.
QN: At 23 years you are most likely to compete with others thrice your age including the Honorable Minister. How do you view yourself in this race?
ON: The ultimate measure of a leader is not judged by age but rather by their intellect and content of their program. How do I plan to improve the living standards of the people is the question you need to be posing. I believe am sent by God and I ask you to read Romans13:1 clearly stating “leaders come from God.”
QN: Given your young age don’t you think you stand to be undermined by both your competitors and the electorate?
ON: The future of our children begins to end the day we accept to be used to undermine people with a vision that matters. His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni the Liberator; joined active political struggles at only 24. Indeed, visionary leaders who make wonders start at this age. I am not scared. I have a positive mind and a big dream for my people of Luuka. How can you undermine value?
QN: At your age do you believe you can manage to represent the people Luuka whose needs and problems are much older than you are?
ON: You speak of age all the while! What matters in leadership is perceiving the situation of the electorate and ably pinpointing at solutions. Fortunately, the population of Uganda is largely comprised of young people. The problems of today are well known to young people and they are addressed by visionary leaders.
QN: There is a growing trend of many Ugandans losing interest in elections due to poor services delivery. What do you comment about this trend?
ON: An elected leader who fails to address the challenges of the electorate is a mockery of leadership. Leaders must exhibit a complete understanding of the people’s problems and to directly participate in their transformation process.
QN: You are eying a seat occupied by a Minister yet the people demand share of the national cake through such slots. Doesn’t this affect your candidature?
ON: What is most important is not being closer to the appointing Authority but rather what you lobby for your people using your status. This is a good question for the people of Luuka to weigh in and gauge whether having a minister is really an advantage.
QN: Busoga is one of the poorest sub-regions in Uganda with poverty levels standing at 37.5%. If you are elected, how will you address this problem?
ON: Our people are still poor not because they don’t have capacity to improve their lives but because they lack guidance of flexible leaders who can be accessed to freely exchange ideas. Such leaders who neglect their electorate are not fit to lead- they are a waste of public mandate and trust.
QN: With the trend of rising commercialization of politics and being that you have just left college, how will you manage competitive politics?
ON: I believe that openness and unconditional support will be the drivers for transformation in our district. Politicians who are unsure about themselves must end up buying their way out. You have however seen them fail eventually. It’s a mockery.
QN: What are you planning to do for the people of Luuka once entrusted with the mandate to represent them?
ON: Genuine leaders are inspired by creating a positive mindset of those they lead. The challenge of Luuka is a flawed mindset and negative attitudes that are easily ridden on by selfish leaders. We have a task to redeem the people out of deep negativity.
QN: Luuka is currently plagued by political intrigue and camps which have marred Busoga politics. How do you plan to survive these muddy waters?
ON: A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus. Therefore, I will be a uniting factor and I will promote team work among the people of Busoga.
QN: You are seeking for a parliamentary seat during this time when public opinion about performance of parliament is very poor. What do you say about this opinion?
ON: Here I have two issues to raise. One; is the commercialization of politics. Because of high levels of poverty, the electorate ends up voting for target workers who acquire huge loans to facilitate their campaigns. After winning elections they abandon parliamentary work in order to engage in illicit ways of servicing their big debts. Two; is failing to understand the role of a Member of Parliament. An MP represents people’s views in national decision-making process. Being a lawyer, I am convinced that I can make a good representative of Luuka because I am familiar with the legislative process. This will liberate my people from the shame attributed to poor representation in the Hansard.
QN: Do you have a family?
ON: Of course, yes. One of the qualities of a good leader is to have a stable family. I am in a stable relationship for 2 years now and my partner is a responsible senior public officer with the government of Uganda.
QN: Are you officially wedded?
ON: We have been in courtship during my time at college and I also needed time to concentrate due a demanding schedule however now that I am soon completing my training, I plan to unveil my long-time friend soon.
QN: Which political party do you belong to?
ON: I was born during the NRM era and my family has a root to the liberation struggle for a free Uganda. I am therefore affiliated to the NRM. I and my family have sacrificed a great deal for the existence of the NRM. Our contribution is well known to the top leadership of the NRM and neither is it doubted.
QN: NRM primaries are usually hotly contested. Will you stand the pressure?
ON: Pressures cannot threaten me and neither push me out of the party. I am one person with a brave character who cannot be threatened by political pressures in matters of liberating my people. What is most important is selling your ideas to the final consumers who are the electorate. Once your ideas are consumed the process to your victory is eased. Pressures usually mount where there are no ideas.
QN: Finally, you are coming at the time when sugarcane out growers are grappling with the issue lack of markets for their canes. How are you planning to address this challenge as a leader knowing that Luuka is one of the districts with a very high population of out growers?
ON: Here we will apply logic. Time has come for us to look beyond selling unprocessed cane and consider value addition. This will eliminate the problem of canes drying in the fields and on trucks. As a leader I will engage government to ensure that the millers are supported to expand production for example right now Madhvanis’ capacity to crush sugarcane is at 2.7m tones per annum yet this FY 2019/20 the farmers have registered sugarcane worth 40m tones meaning that Madhvani has no capacity to mill it. The issue here is increasing capacity of milling. We also need to encourage our farmers to apply value addition to improve their incomes. (For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).