In September 2020, leading up to the 2021 general elections, Evelyn Anite, the state Minister for Investment and Privatization, lost the Koboko National Resistance Movement (NRM) party primaries to Dr. Charles Ayume.
Instead of running as an independent candidate, she made the decision not to contest.
During a sunny day in Uganda’s capital city, Anite sat down with Nile Post for an in depth interview.
In this candid personal interview, she discusses various aspects of her impressive career, including her journey to political power and her growing disappointment with the state of Ugandan politics.
Anite, known for her strong convictions and ambition, has never been one to avoid difficult questions.
However, in this interview, she goes even further, openly expressing her profound frustration with the widespread betrayal that plagues her beloved country.
While she shares her hopes for a brighter future, she also hints at the possibility of pursuing a different path outside of politics.
This maybe Anite’s most revealing interview ever granted to a media outlet.
Who is Anite Evelyn?
My name is Anite Evelyn. I am the Minister of State for finance in charge of investment and privatization.
When and where were you born?
I was born in 1984. At the time I was born, it was the time that many Ugandans fled Uganda and went into exile and my parents did flee from Uganda. They went to Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC) . And so my mom gave birth to me (in a hospital) in Aruu. Aruu is not very far away from the border of Arua. It is in in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Where and when were you born, and who are your parents?
My father is Steven Dravu. My dad is a security operative in West Nile. He has been in the security forces for a long time. He was a high ranking police officer in Amin’s regime. He is now a security operative in Uganda, and he works in Arua. My mom is a businesswoman. She raised us with business. My dad and mom both of them are business people. They have been doing business for all their life.
Were you close to either of your parents, and if so, which one and why?
I am close to both of my parents because they are both fond of me. I am their firstborn, and the first one of my mom. Whereas my dad has got another 10 children and makes us 14 but being the first daughter of my mom both of them are very close to me. They have all contributed towards my success. I am close to them. We do business together, work together.
My Mom has been there for me, she sponsored my first politics fully herself. Before the party (National Resistance Movement) came in and made a contribution, my mom was the one who started the whole thing and sponsored my entire political campaigns as a youth MP.
Are you married, and if so, how many children do you have?
I am married to ambassador Allan Kajik and that is my darling husband. We have two beautiful girls.
Which schools did you attend, and how did they influence you?
I sat my primary seven at Arua Hill School in 1991. Then I went to Saint Mary’s Ediofe Secondary School and my Al level I went to Muni Girls’ Secondary School. My primary school had a very strong foundation for me because my primary school had a very interesting motto and we used to sing it off head (it states) “handwork pays”. I remember singing that hard work pays, this is our motto. It made me understand that hard work pays because I had a very solid foundation.
I was always a prefect from primary school. The first time I met with the president was when I was in primary six in Arua Hill. That is when I first met him. I didn’t know what I wanted to become because in my early days, I had wanted to become an air hostess and my auntie told me that being an air hostess is like being a waitress, house girl in the air of an Aero plane. She discouraged me from what I wanted.
When I finished my senior six I picked an interest in working on radio. I was listening to the radio a lot. During my senior six vocation, I went and worked on the radio and it formed my decision to do mass communication.
When the results were released, I was admitted to Makerere University as well as Uganda Christian University. At Makerere I was given a Bachelor of Art and at Uganda Christian university I was given mass communication, so I had to choose one. I went and did Mass communication at Uganda Christian University.
So, that is when my dream and my career was forming up. So, then I went to Uganda Christian University and became a journalist, and I specialise in public relations and then from there, I came into politics.
What was your first job in radio, and how did you get started in that field?
It was Arua One. My second job was Nile FM, then Radio Uganda, then Uganda Media Center. Before graduating, I already had like four different jobs that I had done. So, when I graduated, I went for politics. After becoming minister, I went to Tufts school, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Tufts is in the United State of America. I went and did a master’s in Public Relations and Diplomacy. While I was there, I decided to go to Harvard University. I did a Certificate in Business Administration, and then I had to go back and do another certificate in leadership. So, I went to Harvard twice.
Who inspired you to pursue a career in politics, and how did you first get involved?
My husband did, he was my boyfriend at the time. I went into the space because I was outspoken. But then while I went into the space, I got myself at Uganda Media Center for proper mentorship programs, and I met my husband and I did not know about elective positions.
And then my husband, who was my boyfriend coming from West Nile took me through and said no, I think I am going to contest for youth in northern Uganda. He was already the chairperson for youth. He was a guild president from Nkumba University and so he was into politics and then he then initiated me and then he gave me his dream of being a politician in exchange of me being his wife.
So, he showed me the way and he put the condition that ‘If I show you the way, you will be my wife’. So, I went there and I got captured. So, I won. I agreed to marry him because he was nice looking. There was no way I could refuse him. I promised myself to only go for elective politics for one term because it was not my calling.
It was never my calling .I did not go to school to study to be a politician.
So, when I got there, he(husband) encouraged me to continue. When I made it (for the second term) I was telling him I am tired. I told him that I don’t want to do it (contest) again. Then. he was insisting you have to do it again.
So, I think even for me to lose the elections (NRM primaries), It was because he(husband) was not by my side and at the time he had already been deployed in Canada. He was not by my side. I was not interested in pushing hard because it was someone’s vision that I am pushing. Politics was never my ambition.
So, the only person I had to count on was him. Politics was not my calling. To be an MP is such a hectic thing to do because being in that position of being MP, I can assure you, all the time you are pretending to be somebody that you are not.
Did your decision to withdraw the ambulance donation to the people of Koboko have anything to do with your political beliefs?
Politics in Uganda has become very transactional. You give them money; they will have to give you the votes. I made them a promise that if I win, I will make sure that every single voter was given a home. I delivered. I made sure I told them if they voted for me, I will make sure to fulfill my promise because the job of an MP is very clear. It is oversight, legislation. It doesn’t say that an MP will be buying ambulances.
I went over and above made promises in the first term. They gave me the vote and I fulfilled the promises. This time I also made them promise that if you vote for me, I am going to first give you this first ambulance. I only bought it three months before the NRM primaries, and they betrayed their contract.
Who do you blame for terminating a contract? I told them publicly? I told them on the radio. I did village to village meetings. I drove the ambulance to every village and I told them if I win, every division will have theirs. I had employed the driver myself. Do you expect me to use my money to pay for fuel, pay the driver when I don’t have a job?Ugandans have to learn or people have to learn to be true to themselves. You must keep your promise. It is an eye for an eye. I don’t know how to pretend; I am not a politician.
What was your first political victory and how did it feel to achieve it?
That was in 2011 when I won as a youth MP for Northern Uganda. For the record, I was the first and I am still the first person to have represented the young people of Northern Uganda as a woman. And the first to be appointed as the Minister for young people as a youth minister. It was the first.
What was your first political defeat, and what did you learn from that experience?
I don’t think that it was a defeat because clearly, I was not defeated according to my agency, and according to my supporters. I believed we were not defeated. But now, let’s say yes, we were defeated. What I learned was that it was not my loss, it was their loss because for me, when I love something or someone I will make sure that the person gets maximum support from me and I give it to my people.
I made sure that I sang about Koboko. Everybody got to know a place called Koboko and I was always there. Their problems were my problem. My problems were their problems. I shared it with them. I was happy to eat with them, dance with them. I was paying school fees doing everything.
(But) It was a blessing to lose elections because they made me get out of politics. I am very happy with those people because I was tired. I was doing it for my husband, who really wanted me to be in politics.
Why did you decide to support the NRM party, and what do you think sets it apart from other political parties?
I asked my mother because when I went to club Obligato, the first time, I had people debating and saying NRM is a bad party. The opposition were telling lies and now I don’t like lies. They were saying that it will take two weeks for one to come from West Nile to Kampala and yet for me to come from West Nile to Kampala, it takes on me only one day. As a young girl I didn’t understand how someone can be a leader and tell a lie like that.
My mom told me that ‘if you ever want to join politics, then you have to support President Museveni and I asked why? She said president Museveni is a great man. He brought us peace.
Do you support President Museveni or his son Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba for the 2026 election?
I told you I have something called loyalty close. I have a contract with president Museveni. He has not breached his contract. Why should I breach the contract? Me I, don’t breach contracts. If the people Koboko did not breach the contract today, they would be having their ambulance hahahahaha (laughing).
What are some principles that you consider non-negotiable in your political career?
Betrayal. Those who betray me, I just say their forgiveness is for the Lord, mine is to arrange the meeting. I will get revenge. You can never betray me because I don’t betray. These are principles that never should be tampered with, betrayal. Because for everyone who betrays me, I will take revenge so that they feel the pain of being betrayed because it is very painful to betray your friend.
What guiding principles do you use to make decisions in your personal and professional life?
It is about setting a legacy for me. I want my 10-year-old and six-year-old babies to grow up, knowing (the contribution their mother made in this country and the legacy she made). I don’t like to see people suffer and so it may encourage me to make sure that I create jobs. Every time I support an industrialist or anyone to start a business for me, I am not supporting that person, I am supporting the people that he or she is going to employ. Because that encourages me so much.
What are your hobbies and passions outside of your work in politics?
I love playing love music, romantic music, R&B and listening to that. And I like to listen to gospel songs. Every Sunday, every day I have to listen to old school R & B. I like to read books.
How do you balance your busy schedule with time for your family?
What is in front of me I do it with passion. If it is time for me to give attention to my husband, I will not pick anyone’s call. It should be his time. If it is time for me to play with my children, it will be their time. I give them quality time. If It is time for me to do government work, I will concentrate on the government work.
What advice would you give to young people who are just starting out in their careers?
They should not lose hope. Don’t leave yourselves in the hands of others. Work for yourself. Hard work pays. First of all is being focused, being determined and however small a job that you have is, even if it is not a permanent job take it seriously.
Whatever it is, if you haven’t gotten a job, go out there. Don’t wait for someone to hold your hands. Look for the job because it is true that you can go out and present yourself on your own merit. You will get it, let’s be very truthful because shortcuts and shoddy work is what leads to the downfall of many of us
If you could change one thing about the country, what would it be and why?
It is something I am already doing because I have the power. It is to tell ourselves to fight sectarianism. If there is anything that irritates me, it is sectarianism, regional background, it is wrong. I really don’t like the fact that we divide ourselves according to our languages and tribes.
I have been a victim of sectarianism myself. The fact that I was not born in Koboko. They(used) to say I am a Congolese. Yes, I was born in Congo, I have not denied it. I don’t see why you should vote for someone because of tribe, vote for issues.
So, for me, one thing that I want to really Ugandans on is how we can become more united and appreciate ourselves as Ugandans.
What is the government doing to address the issue of unused land, and how does this affect the growth and development of the country?
We repossess them. We repossess them because we have the time limit. If you don’t develop in 18 months, we will possess the land.
Does the lack of utilization of idle lands have any impact on a country’s growth and development?
It does? An idle land what do you get out of it? Nothing. So, the land has been meant to be used, land is an asset which is the fourth four core things for growth. (The pillars are) the land, the capital, Labour and intrapreneurship. So, you have to make sure that you put the land to use otherwise you are locking money, you are creating unemployment.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? And how has it impacted your life?
To learn how to forgive. Those who wronged me I don’t like to forgive them but ever since I started forgiving people think it eases my life then I have no negative energy to forgive.
Will you be running for political office in the 2026 election, and if so, what are your plans for campaigning?
I already told you that it is not my calling. I was just doing a service and making my husband happy and I have done it. But I can still serve the people without having to be elected and serve them at my own pace. I don’t think I want to go kneeling around again? No, I finished that. I have been there and done it and seen it because politics in Uganda has become an act, it is a dramas.You have to pretend to be somebody you are not.
As you near the end of your political career, what do you plan to do next?
I am doing my own things. I am born of business people. I told you my mom and dad are business people. I know how to do business and let me tell you, that money that you get out of business out of your own sweat and working it’s better than you being an MP.