By Nabagabe Kalule Flavia
‘I wish to inform you of my decision to not seek re-election for the Kasese District Woman Representative seat in the forthcoming general election. For a long time we have talked against overstay in power, and I think it’s the right time to take the lead. I can only feel successful if I participate in the election of my successor so that together we can shape the destiny of our community, ‘Hon. Winnie Kiiza.
Two days ago, Uganda ended on a high or a low note (depending on your perspective) of one of the greatest and most respected legislators announcing her decision not to seek re-election in Kasese district. Hon. Winnie Kiiza has made a contribution to reshaping the leadership of our country. She is currently the Woman Member of Parliament of Kasese District and formerly the Leader of Opposition (LOP), Uganda, more prominently, the first female LOP. In her tenure, she was a uniting factor for all pro-change agents.
She is prominently remembered for her spirited fight against the lifting of the Presidential age limit cap during the ‘Togikwatako campaign’ and how she fought for justice during the mass killings of the people of Kasese. She served with passion and dignity and has lived by example and demonstrated belief in others on her leadership journey.
By announcing her exit from active politics, Hon. Winnie Kizza has once again set the pace. She has exhibited servant and transformational leadership. She is defying all odds and raising the bar for leadership. We thank her for walking the talk and paving way for other upcoming female leaders. What an honor to the Women’s Movement, Uganda! She has indeed led from the front.
Women form over 50% of Uganda’s population and they have a high contribution to make in the development of our nation. Article 32 of Uganda’s Constitution provides for affirmative action in favor of marginalized groups while Article 33 provides for the rights of women. As a result, Uganda currently has 34.9% women MPs, which is still low but a step in the right direction.
At the inception of affirmative action, it was largely to increase the number of women in politics, encourage them to participate fully in development and leadership and to protect the dignity, welfare/interests of women and other marginalized groups. Affirmative action was introduced to cover up the numerical gap in leadership which it has to some extent done but we want to see this translate to qualitative leadership too. There is also a great debate about whether affirmative action has outlived its usefulness especially in view of the many women who have overstayed on the affirmative action seat.
I applaud Hon. Winnie Kizza for the decision she made. I hope her decision ignites debate not just for political offices but for all of us as leaders on the issues of term limits, affirmative action, succession and exit planning, among other things. Some may argue that it came late after 3 terms but what is more important is that it came, considering that world over experience for MPs is not built in 5 years only.
The key questions are: what legacy are you leaving behind? What will be said about you after your tenure? What are you known for? What is your mark? Politics is not an end. I call upon women’s rights organizations to train women leaders on how to sustain their leadership beyond active politics. Leaders must plan for their exit. Several women continue to grapple with this question explaining their overstay in power. We can also get role models that exited and are still relevant and serving in other spaces to inspire those that are still in leadership. This will make the conversation more attractive and probably motivate women to plan their exits lest they are pushed out unceremoniously.
Leadership that is transformative and earns one respect takes qualities of boldness, consistency, team work and connectedness to people. Hon. Kizza’s leadership tenure in Parliament earned her respect across the political divide. She was not looked at as a woman but rather what she was able to deliver and how she did it. This is vital for women’s leadership. Let us embrace Hon. Winnie’s decision and support her on her new journey.
NABAGABE KALULE FLAVIA, TEAM LEADER, WOMEN WING, PEOPLE POWER MOVEMENT, UGANDA, AND KASSANDA DISTRICT WOMAN MP, ASPIRANT 2021.
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