In Conversation With Amb. Edith Grace Ssempala with Nada Andersen - September 2022
This report highlights the major elements of the In Conversation With [ICW] Ambassador Edith Grace Ssempala dialogue, which was moderated by Nada Andersen. Amb. Ssempala is the National Coordinator for the Alliance for National Transformation Women’s League (ANT).
On programs of the women’s league in ANT
The main thing here in terms of programming is training. ANT as a unique party with high expectations means that, as women and members, we are required to walk the talk. This training involves encouraging women to be active out there.
Views on Accountability
Accountability is very essential. Without accountability, we cannot hold our leaders liable. As a culture, it needs to be inculcated and perfected because since independence, we have been dealing with the issue of leaders starting off well but drifting along the line and becoming unaccountable. For ANT, we believe that the real challenge emanates from leaders who lack values. The Alliance for National Transformation sees accountability as a cardinal principle relevant to transform the nation.
On the disinterest of Ugandans in Politics and the current leadership situation
We know that the problem of leadership in Uganda is the people themselves. They are a threat to themselves because of the weaknesses they are not interested in addressing. It is very clear that this regime is seriously declining. Ugandans being uninterested in politics is partly due to the absence of civic education. I believe that mobilisation and desensitization will make people understand the need to participate in politics.
Removal of civic education from schools
Civic education is a very important empowerment tool because once you know, then you are empowered. That is why a dictatorship does not want people to know owing to the fact that the more ignorant people are, the more they are exposed to oppression.
Viewpoint on the need for women to be active in politics
Women make up about 51% of the population hence, we have the numbers to participate in politics. We are the ones who are affected most as individuals and even through our children. This explains why in ANT, we have a conducive environment for women's participation, evident from having prominent and active women in the political party.
On why women hold back from participating in politics
Women face many challenges. One of such challenges is the immense workload they have to undertake. As a woman who is a politician, mother, and wife, a condescending spouse can limit the woman’s interest in politics. Additionally, there is the socialisation factor whereby politics is regarded as dirty thus, women shun away from participation. The fear factor is also present especially when operating in a dictatorship. This does not affect only women but all those who participate in politics.
Opinions on 50% of Ugandan women being single mothers
It seems like the reason for the influx of single mothers is as a result of men who feel that they can have children and have no sense of responsibility in raising them. However, the root cause of the problem is socialisation. I believe that we have to go back to the basics of instilling values in children when they are young so that when they grow up, they can be held responsible.
Views on the God factor and engagement in misdoings.
People claim they fear God but get involved in all kinds of misdemeanours. When you fear God, you will not do harm to other human beings. Similarly in politics, people talk about doing good things and do the opposite in the end.
On the current situation in the East African Legislative Assembly
It is very unfortunate to see the election of the members of the East African legislative assembly portraying Uganda as a one-party state. NRM seeks to dominate and starve off others. If they claim to be a functional democracy and that there is indeed a leader of opposition in parliament, then it must be reflected in the election of those going to represent Uganda in the East African legislative assembly.
On the transition of power: Is it time for a woman president?
The transition must and will take place as nothing lasts forever. We want to have a peaceful, bloodless transition. The issue should not be about gender but rather the character of a leader. We need a person of high integrity, an individual with a good track record.
On solutions to a positive and seamless change
There is civic education. Ugandans need to understand their role in this change. We want a transparent and credible system that will produce the best candidates. This requires civic education, undoing militarization, and monetization of politics. Ugandans have to understand their responsibilities which include participation in politics.
Final remarks: I would like to invite Ugandans to critically look at the Alliance for National Transformation and the track record of its leaders. Come join us, there is space, and we walk the talk. Lastly, politics requires money and if Ugandans want change, they must invest financially in that change through trustworthy and accountable leaders.
Report compiled by Priscilla Kwabea Fianko, Communication Intern with ANT.