By Moses Ngorok.
Uganda’s general elections were conducted in February and March this year. Several international and domestic election observation groups observed the 2016 General elections with the aim of reporting and making recommendations on the elections.
The ideology behind election observation is to assess elections and make recommendations that seek to see continuous improvement in the management of a country’s elections; very much in the spirit of the revered Japanese Kaizen method of production which emphasizes continuous improvement in industrial production by continuously cutting down on wastage in production processes.
Fatefully, both the domestic and international observers who observed Uganda’s elections presented reports in which many of these observation groups noted that Uganda’s 2016 general elections had fallen short of the internationally set standards for elections.
Back to the analogy of the Japanese Kaizen production style, what the election observation groups in effect presented to all stakeholders in the electoral processes in Uganda to name a few: The Government particularly the Electoral Commission, Citizens and Civil Society Organisations is to identify “areas of wastage” affecting the production line we may refer to as Uganda’s electoral process and offered recommendations to stakeholders which are hoped to fix these challenges in time for the next general elections in 2021.
An axiom of success which successful people and entities would attest as necessary to meeting one’s goals/dream is the need to take action often times illustrated by the adage “talk is cheap”. In the context of our electoral process and in view of the recommendations received from observers, this insinuates that as a country we must take action on recommendations made by observers. Whereas discussion of these issues whether on radio, television or even social media is great, taking strategized actions on these issues while working together supersedes all manner of discussions we can have.
It is imperative that every stakeholder in the process rolls up their sleeves and does some work. This is important because the respect of democratic values and principles is very key to the development of our country whether it relates to one’s hopes of getting a feeder road graded by the government or the collective attainment of the grand vision 2040--the attainment of all these goals is pivoted on respect of democratic values and principles.
Talking strategy, it’s vital that actions taken by stakeholders are backed by very good strategies—for what does it help to put in a lot of effort while walking in the wrong direction? As such, it necessary for stakeholders to get around tables and develop good strategies to address indentified electoral challenges and once this is done, action is should be taken. For example the need to reform our electoral law (which was a prevalent recommendation by both international and domestic election observer groups) needs to be thought through and acted on.
The need for collective action on electoral issues we face as a country cannot be overly emphasized, I am for example (hopefully without sounding treacherous) tempted to suggest that we add my formulated slogan “Taking action” as a post script to our National Anthem to serve as a useful reminder to Ugandans living today and posterity of the importance of getting involved in addressing the electoral challenges we face as a country.
The writer is the Advocacy Officer, Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy Uganda.