Winnie Byanyima: I’d be honoured to lead Uganda as president

Winnie Byanyima

Oxfam International executive director, Winnie Byanyima, says she would be honoured to lead Uganda as its first female president come 2021 presidential elections.

She was Monday speaking to Stephen Sackur, host of BBC Hardtalk on war on poverty, aid, empowerment, self-help and local solutions.

Winnie said she feels a little different from her peers being an African woman leading a global organisation.

“I grew up in a crisis country under the dictatorship of Idi Amin. My life is defined by struggle and that is why I have been working with social justice organisations.”

Winnie said she was involved in revolutions in her 20s and Oxfam is a perfect home for a radical idea to challenge injustice.

Sackur reminded Winnie that she had a strong chance of political success in Uganda, seeking her view on the matter.

“Political leaders can only be as good as the citizens they lead. Citizens must hold their leaders accountable,” she responded.

Winnie said she leads a global organisation that gives citizens a platform to challenge their leaders for justice.

Sackur further reminded Winnie that she served as a parliamentarian for 11 years [representing Mbarara municipality] and worked closely with President Yoweri Museveni who is now seeking constitutional change to die in power.

“I wasn’t working closely with him. I was a critical parliamentarian. We were in the revolution with my husband [Kizza Besigye] but I later disagreed with him and broke away,” she explained.

She said changing the constitution is not a partisan issue but a citizens’ issue.

“We as Oxfam do energise the citizens to speak out. I was among those who made the constitution. He [Museveni] already removed term limits and now wants to remove age limit.”

LISTEN: Winnie on BBC Hardtalk

Sackur put it to Winnie that her husband Besigye is the leading political opponent, pointing out that the matter is deeply personal for her as the Oxfam head.

“I’m a citizen of my country. I cannot be credible if I don’t speak out,” she replied, adding, “I need to fight for the young people. I don’t have to take sides as opposition or government.”

Sackur then pointed out that 2021 elections are on the corner and she could choose to lead the country herself as its first female president.

“It would be an honour to be asked to lead my country… but right now, I have an even bigger honour serving Oxfam. I am happy, I have just signed an extension to my contract for the next five years,” she explained.