Beatrice Asire Mallinga, 50, the widow to the deceased disaster preparedness minister, Dr. Stepen Mallinga, has expressed interest to run for Butebo seat.
By Daniel Edyegu
In what may pass as the characteristic new trend of hereditary politics that's taking root in Uganda, Beatrice Asire Mallinga, 50, the widow to the deceased disaster preparedness minister, Dr. Stepen Mallinga, is not taking any exceptions.
Asire has stated her intention to step into the shoes of her late husband in the forthcoming parliamentary by-elections for Butebo Sub County, Palisa district. Only then, Asire's gesture, unlike many before and after her, is built more on the desire to finish the term of her husband than occupying the vacant political seat.
Before his demise from heart attack on April 12, Mallinga had stated that he would never seek re-election in the 2016 general polls. But most importantly, he stressed that none of his family members - the nine children and wife, would take over from him. He set out to implement his will before death cut him short.
"Before his death, my husband had started the process of consultation with the electorate to identify somebody who would take over from him in 2016. He died before accomplishing that task. That's why I have stepped into the race to accomplish what he had started. In strict adherence to his (Mallinga's) will, I will only, if elected, serve his remaining term of three years and retire from politics," Asire stressed.
Asire may have been a primary head teacher at Butebo primary school only two years ago, which casts doubt into her political might to hold firm together the constituency like her late husband did, but she prides in having been the force behind Mallinga's political success.
"They say behind every successful man, there's a woman. I was the main person behind his political success. We used to draft his political plans together. I even retired from teaching service two years back because I realised the weight of shouldering the needs of the constituency were too much on him, which required a reliable helping hand," Asire said.
The widow and Mallinga had been married for 17 years and have two children. Mallinga collapsed and died on her laps on the fateful night. Yet Asire's decision to contest for the seat will continue to stir deep thought within the constituency and beyond.
"I never had intentions to contest for this seat. But after the death and burial of my husband, the constituents came to my home and urged me to serve them for the remaining term of my husband. So I had to oblige," Asire explained.
Asire, aspiring for the seat under the NRM ticket, will have to wrestle eight others for the party slot. They include Dr. Patrick Lodoi Mutono, Yosia Sajjabi, Samwiri Kedi, James Okurut, Louis Patrick Okia, James Kasolo Kidobi, Richard Oseku and Hamira Musosa.
Mutono, contested with the late Mallinga in the 2011 general elections for the Butebo county seat emerging runner up while Oseku was the first runner up. Mutono, in a jolly gesture, urged the constituency to sustain the legacy of Mallinga in the professional context.
"The people of Butebo County are very wise and have always chosen a medical doctor to represent them. We need to keep those standards and elect another doctor for this seat. That person is none other than me," Mutono said.
Mallinga widow to run for Butebo seat