Post-By-Elections: Implications And Lessons – Denis Mugonza Waggumbulizi

An election is a civil space, and people are expected to behave in a civil manner. An election is not an incident. It is a process that starts with the education of people, and registration of the people, among others. #WhisperEyeNews #News

The Kayunga, Omoro, Soroti, Bukimbiri by-elections will go into history as some of those cruel elections where agents of candidates were arrested from the candidate’s homes and hotels. There is a belief and my own belief that the elections in Uganda are worsening daily.

The zeal with which the NRM is going into elections, is either they lose, or we win, and they will do every kind of thing. There are very many people in politics that lack shame and consciousness. You cannot say an election was free and fair when you have seen the brutality and extent of media being beaten in an election, among others.

I am very sure that Mr. Tibuhaburwa does not like the nasty pictures he sees from the elections given the fact that this is what he claims to have fought against. I have read his book, and he detests violence, but these people who support him want to take it upon and beyond. We cannot continue like that.

An election does not do much, only the Election Day or the following day. It is to do with the transparency with which elections are relayed. The Police and Army in Uganda are NRM. Anyone in NRM can call the Police and Army to arrest you. In Kenya, I did not see anybody being arrested during and after the elections. I did not see Odinga, Ruto, and other candidates being harassed. That is an election. What we saw in the Kayunga, Omoro, Soroti by-elections, with the aid of the Electoral Commission, the State will go to the polling station, cut it off, ballot stuff, and arrest as many polling agents as possible. The Opposition might not have won the by-elections that have taken place in recent times, but they have certainly made their mark. When you look at the repeated election of Bukimbiri, when the ballot papers were printed, they came with crisscrossed names. You would see a bus which is a symbol for the NRM, on the name of the DP candidate. The Electoral Commission has failed to conduct a free, fair, and credible election and this may cost us a lot as a country. You can have three people qualifying for a job, and then at some point, they (the recruiter) have to ask for an NRM card.

The management of elections in Uganda needs to be improved. Opposition parties have been cost a lot of money purely because of the negligence of the Electoral Commission. Politics is an art of compromise. People must compromise on how best they can be ruled, but not a clique of people to decide. One of the reforms is the enhanced use of technology so that transmission can be faster and train the officials. For a long the Opposition has advocated for electoral reforms that will enable a free and fair election like it was done in Kenya but in vain. I reminisce in the Amama Mbabazi versus Yoweri Kaguta Museveni & Ors (Presidential Election Petition 1 of 2016) [2016] UGSC 3 (31 March 2016), the Supreme Court of Uganda that was then presided over by Chief Justice Bart Magunda Katureebe made some important observations and recommendations with regard to the need for legal reform in the area of elections generally and Presidential elections in particular. Many of these calls have remained unanswered by the Executive and the Legislature.

The Citizens Election Observers Network – Uganda (CEON – U) also made the following very important observations and recommendations but nothing has been put into practice to enable a free and fair election in Uganda: Uganda’s legal framework limits the foundation for conducting credible elections. These limitations prompted civil society to produce the Citizens’ Compact on Free and Fair Elections, which includes recommendations for structural and legal reforms;

Overhauling the Electoral Commission to ensure independence and impartiality, reforming the demarcation of electoral boundaries, ensuring recruitment of Polling officials is done transparently, competitively, and based on merit, and the establishment of an independent judiciary to adjudicate electoral disputes impartially. These recommendations were not taken up for the 2016 elections till now, but if they were taken up, they would create a more conducive atmosphere that would produce genuinely free and fair elections in our country. The situation today must be favoring individuals but not the country at large. This is aimed at keeping them in power. What we have in Uganda today are not elections but a war.

By Denis Mugonza Waggumbulizi | Advocate, Researcher & Entrepreneur

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