Phiona Mirembe: Young lawyer announces she will run for presidency in 2021
NATIONAL | A Kampala-based young woman lawyer has declared intention to run for the top-most executive office in the land come 2021, following in the footsteps of three other women in as many presidential polls.
Phiona Mirembe will be 33 in 2021 when the country go to polls to continue the search for the elusive democratic transition of power in Uganda, treading in the footsteps of former first lady Miria Obote (2006), Beti Olive Namisango Kamya (2011) and Maureen Waluube Kyala in the last presidential election.
“Fellow citizens and stakeholders, I hereby pronounce my thought-through decision to stand for President of the Republic of Uganda, the year 2021,” Mirembe said on her Facebook page on Tuesday.
“I can’t tell you that I’m in any way qualified to be President or that I even have the moral authority to ask of you for the presidency of this country, but I have the heart that beats after our nation,” she added.
The first two women contenders who challenged Museveni’s stronghold on power, albeit with effete effort, were from Buganda but with third from Busoga, Mirembe’s ambition means it could just be a Buganda-Busoga determination — if she gets on the ballot as the only woman in the race in 2021.
However, the young lawyer and managing partner of Mirembe and Company Advocates, does not see herself as another also-ran name on the ballot paper like the women before her. Miria could only poll 57,000 votes, the population of Makerere University if you factor in all stakeholders.
Kamya after her polled even worse, with just 52,000 votes and the dipping trend continued with Kyalya at a paltry 42,000 of the total votes.
But Mirembe feels this trend will change once the voters get the feel of what she has on offer — fighting the “glaring injustice in our country,” and her “passion to change this state of affairs.”
“During my practice as a lawyer, I have witnessed several happenings of injustice — lawyers taking advantage of clients as well as fellow lawyers, judges making decisions premised on what’s in it for them rather than on justice, government officials stealing public funds with impunity, the poor losing lives and livelihoods to purchased justice…” Mirembe said.
Reeling off more, she said there are incompetent people getting appointed to sensitive positions of public service, criminals getting away with so much simply because they can pay for it or know someone in high places, and public servants fattening at the expense of tax payers’ money while treating these tax payers with disregard.
“People losing all manner of hope in our systems — the colour has drained off our nation’s face,” she said, adding that injustice has led to the behemoth of corruption, selfishness, unnecessary politicking for favours, avoidable poverty, impunity, ineptness, injudicious incarcerations, a decline in morals, a far-from-enviable education system, an acutely ailing economy are only breeding a “nation for scorn.”
Museveni’s eternal seat
President Museveni has presided over Uganda for 33 years since his historic arrival in Kampala through the bushes of Luwero in 1986. Although he has restored stability and arguably a sense of security, his records are greatly challenged by his opponents who insist he would have done better.
Opposition, development partners and rights agencies have always cited, among others, acute corruption, failing service delivery such as in health, as well as the growing spate of insecurity characterised by assassinations and robberies as a sign that Museveni has given his best for the country but cannot do any better.
But he does not show any sign of passing over the baton to another person. In December, Museveni pushed Parliament to pass a controversial bill that saw to the scrapping of the presidential age cap from the Constitution to allow him another go at the presidency when he would have been ineligible to seek re-election when his current term expires in 2021.
So far, every indication is that Museveni will stand for re-election in 2021 with most of his opponents not convinced her can concede defeat in an election having controversially won the last three polls and recently changed his rhetoric on democracy by stating that elections are useless and that Opposition were wasting their time clamouring for transition.
But Mirembe, who does not subscribe to any of the parties currently and appears to be looking at a ticket as an Independent presidential candidate, said it’s impossible to rectify the failures in the country “by giving back evil to those that serve us evil.”
“We cannot heal this nation by returning wrong for wrong — you don’t put out a fire by lighting a fire. We need to purposely love our country and neighbor out of this pit we find ourselves in,” the presidential hopeful said.
At just 31 and with hardly any experience up her sleeves in public management, she would not only be the youngest hopeful to eye the presidency but also one inexperienced lot.
Yet she is not moved by these, citing her innate passion and compassion for seeking justice in society.
“We can teach anyone competence, but we can’t teach passion and compassion. Together, we can change our nation as one learns from one — God being our overall helper,” she said.
Mirembe urged the nation to put in genuine prayers for President Museveni, whom she said remains a great leader with an uncommon foresight.
“He may have fallen short here and there but even the best of us fall short. Let’s not be quick to judge; but to forgive, appreciate and bless everyone around us as we continue to pursue a better future for our country,” she said.
The presidential hopeful said that having declared her presidential ambition, she will be consulting extensively on the seemingly unfeasible dream with a view to chalking up the necessary backing she needs to put up a formidable challenge in 2021.