CORONA VIRUS SCARE! Is Uganda Ready for 2021 elections?
Whether or not to hold 2021 general elections is a question so intriguing to the extent that, it has been adopted as a serious debate by those in opposition.
Unfortunately, they have fanned this debate without realizing that the issue in question was deliberately introduced into the public domain for discussion by NRM spin doctors with the intent to trivialize the concept of elections in the country thus undermining the sovereignty of the Constitution of The Republic of Uganda that provides citizens with a right to vote, determine how and who is to lead them through balloting after every five years in conformity with articles 2, 59, 77(3), 78(2), 105(1) and 181.
Suspension of elections imposes leaders on the people which in essence violates the said constitutional rights of individuals.
It should be noted that, engaging in this debate distracts political players from focusing on the important question of how should the electoral process be conducted amidst Covid19 pandemic in order to ensure public safety. It rather directs their minds to answering the question of whether or not zebras have stripes. I mean, it is obvious that zebras have stripes!
That said, the issue at hand involves three aspects, namely public safety, holding free and fair elections and then the constitutional rights of individuals to determine who is to lead them through balloting after every five years.
The aspect of constitutional rights of individuals to ballot after every five years is not debatable, what we should be debating as a country is whether we have capacity to hold a free and fair elections with minimum or no exposure at all of the participants to Covid19 pandemic.
I strongly believe that, Uganda has the capacity to successfully organize elections which are free, fair and safe for voters amidst this pandemic however this can only be possible if the electoral commission is impartial and independent, a feature so hard to find in Uganda’s electoral commission today, and now that, there is the pandemic which catapulted their benefactor to the top of the game, there is no doubt, as has always been the case, the opposition will be rigged, that is, if they win.
Since rigging has always happened even in normal times, I want to believe that the opposition has either learnt how to live with it or there is already an established strategy to counter it, therefore rigging per se cannot form part of the reason for one to contemplate haggling for suspension of general elections beyond 2021, even though, the quality of elections does matter a lot.
Lastly on the issue of safety, political organizations and individuals should develop alternative proposals with strategies geared at ensuring that the electoral process is conducted but without infections for instance, agreeing to campaign through social and traditional media houses like Television and Radio stations, this may be expensive but through diversion of campaign funds it can be achievable, observing social distance, compulsory wearing of face masks on balloting days, placing sanitizers at every polling station, balloting for such number of days to avoid disenfranchisement of citizens etc, benchmarking can be done on South Korea for strategies on how they were able to successfully conduct their elections amidst Covid19 pandemic. These proposals should be comprehensive to accommodate inter party elections.
Whether the occupants of various political offices are ready or not to face the electorates, as a matter of law, they will have to seek reelection after expiry of their five year tenure in 2021.
Okoler Opio Enoch Lo Amanu