Kampala is the most urbanised part of the country with many challenges that need fast, creative and dynamic solutions.
Speaking to the Nile Post in an interview, Shamim Malende, the newly elected Woman MP for Kampala said the rampant disappearances of people, abductions, torture, manipulation of the law by some actors are some of the issues she has come to address.
How best would you like to represent the people of Kampala who overwhelmingly voted for you in the last election?
By exercising my mandate as a member of parliament through making good laws, seeking for amendment of bad and very old laws, being the voice of the people of Kampala and Uganda in Parliament and presenting their views on the floor of parliament among others.
I want to provide leadership that is inclusive and non discriminatory. A leadership that is substantial than formal, politics that is real other than dramatic. Leadership that tackles issues affecting the transport sector, hawkers, street vendors, landlords and tenants, women and children, the business community etc. A leadership that is conscious of the core values of discipline, reliability, inclusiveness, integrity, Fidelity and service.
What are you going to focus on as you begin your term?
I already started even before I got elected into office by providing free legal services to victims of political persecution and to people who can not afford to pay lawyers. So I am already using the law to fight for the disadvantaged. Over 100 cases were successfully concluded before elections. I handled Bombo court martial cases immediately after winning the elections and before my swearing in, over 67 youth got released. On May 25 2021 together with other lawyers we got 17 comrades released from Kitalya [Prison] and these are part of Nubian Lee, Dan Magic and Eddie Mutwe group.
You stood against women who were much older than you with enough experience in leadership. How did you manage to beat them in such a tough race?
People sent me on the ballot, made a choice, exercised their power and voted me into office and that is people power under the stewardship of Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu. Secondly, voters wanted me to use the floor of parliament to expound service by speaking against the bad laws and hindrances in implementation of law which I encountered almost on a daily basis as I represented them at police and in different courts. Thirdly, leadership comes from God. I can confidently say that this leadership came from God and that I am answerable to God and the people (servant leadership).
Were you surprised by the NUP wave that swept most parts of Buganda?
I was not surprised. It was not a mere wave but reality. The world heard and voted people power. You know the NUP even won the presidency and we are still pushing for a peaceful transition of power.
What are some of the challenges you faced during your campaign?
The untimely death of my two top mentors, advisors and confidants Dr Abdunoor Anas Kaliisa and Sheikh Nooh Muzaata Batte. I received threats from anonymous people. Covid-19 made it impossible to meet crowds at the same time. I had to settle for door-to-door campaigns which were so tiresome. There was limited time for campaigns therefore we had to work long hours yet still adhere to curfew time. There was political blackmail and jealousy.
How do you rate the performance of your predecessor in Kampala?
I prefer not to rate my predecessor because I am more focused on the way forward. However, I learnt a lot from her on the challenges of leading Kampala and handling conflicting interests. I want to stand where the people want me to stand as long as it doesn’t contravene the law and also push for revision of bad laws.
There is a feeling that NUP has been infiltrated by the NRM more especially through the newly elected leaders. What do you think?
There is a lot of political blackmail but as we have been saying, every person’s actions shall expose them. We are answerable to God and the people. This is also a question of lack of integrity and confidence in the current regime. That is why we keep pushing for a peaceful transition of power to restore sanity.
General Yoweri Kaguta Museveni recently exonerated NUP leaders from any form of infiltration by NRM while addressing the nation on the day we elected the speaker and deputy speaker of parliament.
People claim that most of you joined NUP to fulfil your personal interest while others to retain their seat.
I joined people power to be part of the struggle for a peaceful transition of power.
You do a lot of pro-bono legal work and I think you can serve the people in that capacity very well.What inspired you to join politics?
I joined politics to add a voice to the legal voice so that voices of suffering Ugandans can reach far. To participate in making laws that are not against the people and to push for revision of bad laws and outdated ones.
What is your take on the current state of politics in the country?
It’s disheartening. People still demand for their victory as well as their abducted relatives and friends plus all comrades in illegal detention. People say this regime doesn’t care about their welfare due to over taxation, embezzlement of public funds, poor working conditions among others.
Where do you see NUP as a party in the next five years to come?
NUP is the political vehicle of the people power movement, and people power has no limitation. It has been here and will always be.