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Restricted time frame of the roadmap has sunk political party activities – CCEDU

KAMPALA – The Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda ( CCEDU) relied on its 10,029 members deployed at parish level to collect data and report about Election Day processes for the following elections: Elderly Persons Elections at Parish level on Friday September 11, 2020, the People With Disability (PWD) Elections on Monday, September 14, 2020 and the Youth Elections at Parish Level conducted on September 17, 2020.

In addition to the Special Interest Group Elections, have been the NRM party primary elections held sometimes on the same day; on Friday September 11, 2020 , Special Interest Group Elections happened on the same day with the NRM Division Mayors and District Chairpersons, Division councillors to the city and L.C.3 representatives.

According to the revised roadmap, political parties and organisations were supposed to have identified flag bearers  and completed the  process between (22nd June – 21st July 2020).

Unfortunately, this has not been possible for most political parties which still have their party primaries running late into September and this explains why NRM party primaries have been held on days when special Interest Group Elections were taking place, but this has been extremely confusing for voters.

At all (10,029) polling stations observed on September 11 and 14, 2020, the voters were confused over which Election they were to participate in; NRM or special Interest Group Elections and most ended up participating in both.

 The revised time frame on the roadmap was brought about by the COVID-19 lockdown, that saw us lose three months.

PARISH ELDERLY PERSONS ELECTIONS, SEPTEMBER 11, 2020.

The voter’s register for older persons has a total of 1, 701,518 registered voters. And it is these registered voters that have been participating in the Elderly persons’ elections:

– Inadequate voter Education: The elders in 904 polling stations observed did not access voter education information ahead of the Elder’s election.  Voter education is intended to enable citizens to understand and appreciate their duties, obligations, rights and responsibilities as they participate in electoral processes. However, each time there is a gap in civic and voter education, the citizenry are denied a chance to actively participate in electoral processes.

-Unopposed candidates: At 421 polling stations observed there were unopposed candidates for all the five slots of elections that were provided by the EC and most of the unopposed candidates belonged to the National Resistance Movement (NRM Party) and others were from FDC and ANT.

At 83 polling stations observed, EC officials would turn up with a list and read who made it even before the election took place. This was especially observed in Makerere, Kiboga and Kayunga.

 For the 2021 elections; and the youth Voter’s register has 7,846,373 registered voters.

At all 10,029 polling stations observed the youth were confused about elections at District and city level and were wondering if an electoral college would be constituted for the city as well. Otherwise the Parish youth Elections were largely peaceful. The details of what transpired will be contained in the detailed report.

 PARISH – PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY ELECTIONS, SEPTEMBER 14, 2020.

For the 2021 General Elections, The PWD voter register has 382,577 registered voters. It is these voters that participated in these elections.  The PWD elections at all polling stations observed 10, 029 went on peacefully. However, the turn-out was low.

At 632 polling stations observed,  people with disabilities ( The ones with physical disability, blind, those with hearing impairment, Albinos  and the little people)  had  limited access to media out lets and the fact that many PWDs could not access information meant there was limited participation from all the categories of people with disabilities.

There was also the question of resources, several people with disabilities found it difficult to even produce posters for their own campaigns because of lack of resources. At 570 polling stations observed, PWDs complained that they had hoped to get funding from the Government to enable them participate in electoral processes, but they did not access these funds.

9,712 observers reported that by 12:30Pm polling stations were closed with no polling officials.

RECOMMENDATIONS:  

As regards strengthening political pluralism and recognising the role, rights and responsibilities of legally constituted political parties, especially opposition political parties, the Electoral Commission needs a lot of support on this front to espouse balance to all political contenders. The instances where Electoral Officials read out unopposed candidates mainly from the NRM left the opposition parties suspicious of the Electoral officials.

-The Electoral Commission should be viewed by the public as an independent, impartial and fair referee that can freely preside over elections.  However, with the diminishing citizens’ confidence that the Commission is an independent ‘adjudicator in electoral/political competition, the Electoral Commission  should make more of their processes transparent and investigate the illegal practices of Electoral officials in places like Kiboga and Makerere  with the aim of punishing the culprits and making it known to the public that the issues have been resolved.

-The Electoral Commission would require to train more staff and carry out sufficient voter education ahead of the polls.

-The Electoral Commission should partner with the Uganda Human Rights Commission, CCEDU and NICE-Uganda to put out Civic Education messages on the need to follow standard operating procedures as laid out by the Electoral Commission in the electoral guidelines.

NRM LCV PRIMARY ELECTIONS 2020

On Friday September 11 and 14, 2020.

NRM held party primaries for Division Mayors and District Chairpersons, Division councillors to the city and L.C.3 representatives for the party. On Wednesday September 16, 2020, the NRM held elections for LC3 chairpersons, district councillors,  councillors representing sub-counties and councillors of parishes. Article 1 (4) which accords the electorate the right to determine who should represent them in Parliament; although the NRM is a political party and has its own constitution, its constitution states that Voters’ will exercise their right to choose leaders in a transparent manner.aà12

However, from the observations made, the political party has a lot of gaps in its internal democratic processes, which are likely to affect the National Elections, because the NRM is the biggest political party in Uganda.

At 115, polling stations observed some of the voters just stood and observed the elections because they did not want to be seen to support one candidate against the other. Some feared the community to know whom they were supporting, as such these voters were disenfranchised because of the Lining up method of Election.

-Ferried voters: At 614 polling stations observed  voters were being ferried from one polling station to another on boda-bodas and in pick-ups. In some instances voters were ferried from village to village to line-up behind the picture of the candidate that had ferried them. 

At 932, polling stations observed there was no hand washing, wearing of face – masks or social distancing despite the spike in COVID-19 cases in the country.

At 241 polling stations observed Children as young as six to 15 years were seen on lines voting and yet the voting ae in Uganda is 18 years and above. There was no requirement for National Id or any identification in the NRM party primaries at all 10,029 polling stations observed.

– Exaggeration of numbers: At 415 polling stations observed , the voters who were written on the Dr Forms were more than the voters that were recorded at the beginning of voting. The number  would also not tally with what the observers had counted across the lines.

Bribes: At 908 polling stations observed money was supplied at night. It ranged between sh40,000 and sh50,000. Sections 67 and 64 of the Parliamentary Elections Act, 2005 and the Presidential Elections Act, 2005 criminalise voter bribery and buying. The NRM constitution also condemns bribery, however, during the entire period of campaigns, candidates at different levels were involved in this practice, thereby making it seem like the norm. As election day drew closer, voter bribery increased. This manifested in the form of giving out hard cash during campaigns. These practices were reported in 83.5% of polling stations observed.

– Inadequate voter education: At 345 polling stations observed  voters of powerful candidates and party agents of powerful candidates blocked voters of other candidates from participating in elections. And the voters of the other candidates would walk away from polling stations failing to exercise their right to vote. This was particularly noted in Kikube, Fortportal, Masindi, Kasese, Jinja  city north division and Budondo.  This is a clear sign that voters still need to be empowered ahead of the elections.

 At 604, polling stations observed party agents were convinced to sign DR forms before the elections took place. 

Heavy deployment at polling stations: After the NRM MP Party primaries that were largely marred with violence, there was heavy deployment at  819 polling stations observed and violence was registered at 105 polling stations observed.

– Multiple voting:  At 947 polling stations observed there was multiple voting observed.

Brigades from different camps fighting; At 78 polling stations observed there was exchanging of blows between brigades of the different candidates.

Declaring wrong results: At 677 polling stations observed, the results declared did not tally with what CCEDU observers had picked from the source. This was particularly noted in Namutumba, Kibuku, Budaka, pallisa, Bugembe, Budondo and Jinja City North Division.

CONCLUSION:

The NRM Party primary elections were aimed at promoting a system of government that is representative, but in most cases fell short of accepted democratic principles such as ensuring transparency and fairness in the elections. 

The elections promoted acts of corruption and impunity and as such left voters disgruntled even when the elections were by lining up. Some of the elections in parishes and villages were cancelled due to the malpractices enumerated above and repeat poll is being organised.

But for elections that are by lining up, voters ask how a recount has been instituted sometimes days after the polls were cast. The electoral ills captured in the NRM party primaries need to be amicably resolved so as to contain the looming violence that could so easily spill into the 2021 general elections.

Transparency and fairness eluded most of the processes observed and the NRM as a political party has a big role to play in bolstering the principles of democracy.

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