Presiding officers and Polling Assistants have clashed with the Nakasongola District Returning Officer Anthony Ambrose Mwaitwa over ‘insufficient’ transport allowances given to them after training on conducting general elections.
The District Returning Officer invited 372 Supervisors, presiding officers and polling assistants for training at St Joseph Vocational High School in Nakasongola town for training ahead of general elections to be held on Thursday, January 14.
Mwaitwa informed them that each participant was entitled to between 45, 0000 and 50,000 Shillings to cover their transportation for the two days of the training. But the election officials outrightly rejected the allowances saying it was little and they had received information that their colleagues in nearby districts had been given between 90,000 and 100,000 shillings for similar training.
The election officers whose identities have been withheld say that because of the long distances to the training venue some opted to sleep in hotels whereas others hired motorbikes to ease their movement. The Bikes are hired at 20,000 Shillings per day.
The officials suspect that the money was embezzled and resolved not to accept the allowances.
The election officers threatened to beat the Returning Officer forcing Policemen from Nakasongola Police Station commanded by the District Police Commander Patience Namara to intervene and evacuate him.
Namara pleaded with the election officers to accept the allowances since she had also verified and found that was the money disbursed the training.
Namara proposed that officers either sign for the available money or leave it behind while they seek more clarification from a commissioner in Electoral Commission on the exact amount they were entitled to. The election officers chose not to sign for the money before leaving the venue.
Mwaitwa told URN that was the money advanced to him for the exercise and he is not aware of any district where election officers got above that amount. He explained that only 15 supervisors were entitled to 50,000 Shillings each while the rest were supposed to be paid only 45,000 Shillings as transport refund.
Mwaitwa, however, said that a crisis meeting will be convened on Thursday with his regional supervisors and District officials to discuss the grievances of the election officers.