Administration and management of elections is still an uphill task that frustrates democracy growth in Uganda, Justine Mugabi Ahabwe Commissioner Electoral Commission in charge of the eastern region has disclosed.
Mugabi made the revelation on Thursday while addressing a gathering that had turned up for electoral commission stakeholders engagement workshop for the assessment and evaluation of the 2015/16 general elections at wash and wills hotel in Mbale town.
The meeting was attended by members of parliament, office of IGP representatives, development partners, political parties’ representatives, religious leaders, civil society organizations, and officials from electoral commission.“One of the most critical variables for the success or failure of democracy is the administration of elections. In developing countries like Uganda, with low levels of literacy, administration of an election is not an easy task,” Mugabi noted.
She said that despite low literacy in Uganda the new commission will endeavor to ensure transparency, accountability and impartiality at each stage of the electoral process so that the stakeholders can have trust and confidence in results of elections. She said that the commission hopes to achieve this through in-house team spirit and building good working relationship and cooperation with all stakeholders. “For matters that will be beyond this commission’s control, the concerned stakeholders will be approached for appropriate action or solutions,” Mugabi said.
Mugabi noted that there is need of support from stakeholders to ensure that they are developing democracy, so that Uganda can also become a reference point in the management of democratic elections. During the evaluation the meeting also pointed out some of the shortcomings that could have affected general elections ranging from continuous creation of administrative units which disrupted the exercise of reorganizing polling stations.
She also regretted the delayed delivery of the polling kits in some areas of Kampala and Wakiso districts due to a logistical mishap. Asuman Odaka from Tororo observed that there is still need to educate the masses on the impact of commercializing politics in relation to democracy. “To some, Ugandan elections have been turned into jobs where contestants aim to do all it takes to avoid a loss.
Ugandans now have a wrong perception about the electoral commission,” Odaka said He also lashed at electoral commission for using police to intimidate voters and protecting the ruling party in ballot stuffing. Andrew Omara from Uganda people’s congress party appealed to government to adequately fund the electoral commission for it to deliver better services, He said that late enactment or amendment of enabling laws by parliament which left the commission with inadequate time to plan and sensitize the public about the new developments as well as causing extension of some planned activity dates.
“Voter apathy-unlike in the presidential and parliamentary elections which has a voter turnout of 67.62%, there was low voter turn up for the local government elections,” he said. Mugabi defended the presidential election results outcome and said that the electoral commission did not doctor results as most of the opposition claimed. “The commission did its best towards fulfilling its constitutional mandate to conduct free and fair elections in the then prevailing circumstances,” Mugabi said.
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