19th February 2018
We write this letter with a profound appreciation that this year government plans to conduct elections in the six newly created districts of: Nabilatuk, Bugweri, Kwani, Kapelebyong, Kasanda, and Kikuube; elections will also be conducted to fill vacancies in about 264 of the 1,403 sub counties in Uganda. Other elections envisaged include: Parliamentary and Local Government by-elections, as well as possible Local Council I and II elections alongside the possibility of a National referendum. In order to deliver a cost-effective and democratic electoral process that will enlist the confidence of the wananchi to participate unimpeded in the different electoral processes, electoral reforms are a must. Your Excellency, we want to believe that it is because you clearly understand the importance of progressive political reforms that you rightly campaigned on the platform of instituting a constitutional review process.
A man casts his vote in the recent Ruhaama By-election.
Under chapter II of your 2016 – 2021 manifesto, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) commits to uphold the principle of democracy where citizens directly participate in regular, free and fair elections. Correspondingly, NRM has situated itself as the trustee and principal guarantor of vision 2040 in which the need for democracy is recognized as the anchor to transform Uganda. Vision 2040 states that, government will inter alia, enhance the legal and regulatory framework covering the electoral process. In line with these commitments, the second National Development Plan (NDP II) recognises that without free and fair political and electoral processes, key development objectives cannot be achieved. To this end, the NDP II proposes to “enact laws to strengthen credibility of electoral processes in Uganda and citizen participation in the electoral process”.
Your Excellency, we recognise that following the enactment of the 1995 Constitution, Uganda has held regular elections during the set constitutional time frames – every five years. Yet, since 2001, general elections in Uganda have ended in controversy. The 2001, 2006 and 2016 presidential elections culminated in court disputes while in 2011, elections ended in violent public demonstrations. Despite your policy direction, concerns about your government’s commitment towards a transparent and accountable electoral framework persist. Since 2001, election observers, political organisations, civil society organisations and private individuals have proposed electoral and constitutional reforms that would guarantee credible, free and fairer elections in Uganda.
On January 30, 2018, the Kenyan government shut down four news channels; Citizen TV, Inooro TV, NTV and KTN for announcing plans to air the swearing-in of opposition leader Raila Odinga as president.
Kenyans took to the streets of Nairobi and through various social platforms, protested the closure. The protest was joined by lawyers, who, on February 1, went to court and ordered a 14-day suspension of the shutdown to allow for a legal challenge.
These protests and condemnations by citizens who know and value the role of the media, is a lesson Ugandans should pick.
Unfortunately, in Uganda, it has become common for government to shut down media houses as and when it pleases. During the 2016 elections, social media was shut down on Election Day in February and as Yoweri Museveni swore-in as president on 12th May.
Most recently, since September 2017 to date, media houses have been on the receiving end of crackdown. The Red Pepper (and by extension its sister publications), was in November shut down following the publication of a story that government says was in breach of national security, among other charges. The paper only resumed operations on 29 January 2018 after meeting President Museveni and getting a ‘presidential pardon’.
Before that, several upcountry radio stations were shut down for airing content relating to the presidential age limit removal contained in Article 102(b) of the Constitution. Uganda Communications Commission, in all counts stated that the stations were in breach of minimum broadcasting standards. Relatedly, editors of Daily Monitor and Red Pepper were summoned by police in relation to publishing stories about the presidential age limit debate, while a ban was slapped on live media coverage of the same.
Through all these crackdown against the media, Ugandans remain conspicuously silent, except for a few voices on social media and by civil society organisations. These voices eventually died down.
In my view, the problem of intimidation of journalists and the crackdown against the media can be solved if the Ugandan public learned from their Kenyan counterparts. Every-time a media house is shut down, Ugandans should protest using social media and various legal means. If the local press cannot carry the story of the shutdown, the international media will pick it up and keep it running. The idea is not to relent every time intimidation rears its ugly head.
Secondly, media houses should at all times publish fact-based and objective stories. These stories will speak for themselves in courts of law and in the eyes of the public. While some journalists lack professionalism, this should be addressed so that the entire media fraternity is not exposed to high-handedness by the state and individuals because of lapses by a few rotten eggs.
By Charity Ahimbisibwe
Charity is the Communication and Advocacy Manager at FHRI/CCEDU
The nomination exercise for the Jinja East Municipality by election took place on Febuary 13 and 14, 2018 at the Jinja district headquarters. The EC nomination team that was led by the Jinja district Returning Officer (RO) Mr. Rogers Serunjogi and assisted by a team from EC HQ processed all candidates as per the required procedure.
Processing for nomination was on first come first served basis, all candidates were first verified at a desk staffed by EC HQ staff. At this station, the verification team looked up for proper identification of the nominee, certificate of education as issued by the National Higher of Education, proof of payment of the UGX 3,000,000 as required by law, lists of seconders.. Upon fulfillment of all requirements the nominee is sent to the RO that receives photograph from the nominee before pronouncing the candidate as dully nominated.
At the same location, all candidates were required to hand in respective campaign programs that are to be harmonized on Thursday February 15 2018 at a meeting to be convened by the Jinja District RO.
By the close of day 02, only 08 of the 16 Persons that had picked forms of interest to participate managed to turnup to be dominated.
|Febuary 13||Mayemba Faisal||Male||Independent|
|Febuary 13||Nathan Igeme Nabeeta||Male||NRM|
|Febuary 13||Paul Mwiru||Male||FDC|
|Febuary 13||Francis Wakabi||Male||Independent|
|Febuary 14||Richard Nyanzi||Male||Independent|
|Febuary 14||Abuze Monica (Ms)||Female||Independent|
|Febuary 14||Mugaya Paul Davidson||Male||PPP|
|Febuary 14||Isabirye Hatimu||Male||Independent|
Upon nomination all candidates had a brief interaction with various media houses highlighting key aspects of their manifestos before proceeding to various destinations were the first campaign rallies were held.
Francis Wakabi and Nyanzi Richard had issues with photographs submitted as they didn’t meet the requirements prescribed by law. Though dully nominated, they were required to furnace the RO with the right photographs.
FDC leaning Candidates complained that the party didn’t hold primaries prior to the nominations. Paul Mwiru the FDC flag bearer self-pronounced as the flag bearer for the race.
Isabirye Hatimu (Independent) is not a registered voter of Jinja East constituency.
Isabirye Hatimu after being nominated.Even though nominated Isabirye is not a registered voter for Jinja East. He was advised to effect transfer to Jinja municipality so as to vote on March 15 2018.
Nalukwago and Mwaka.
Introduction: Given its broad mandate of realizing a Uganda where the principles and practices of electoral democracy are upheld, the Citizen’s Coalition For Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) will observe the Jinja East constituency by-election slated for March 15. As a means of enhancing citizen participation in Uganda’s electoral processes, CCEDU was today, February 13, 2018, in Jinja to mobilize citizens for the processes ahead of the by-election. Since its establishment, CCEDU has been a leading player in advocacy for electoral reforms, observation of general and by-elections and civic/voter education campaigns.
Nomination Process: The nomination processes as observed by CCEDU was smooth with no eventualities. 16 people picked nominations forms, but so far four candidates have been cleared. These are Faisal Mayemba an independent candidate, Nathan Igeme Nabeta (NRM), Paul Mwiru (FDC), Francis Wakabi (independent). The Jinja East by-election is anticipated to be one of the most contentious by-elections this year. At nomination, Paul Mwiru said: “This is not an election between me and Nabeta, but one between me and President Museveni.”
Hon Mwiru addressing the media after the nomination.
During nomination, Nabeta and his team insisted he is an educated man and will win the by-election. According to press reports, a new by-election was announced on January 12, 2018, by the Court of Appeal. On July 18, 2016, the High Court judge, Lydia Mugambe ordered Nathan Igeme Nabeta out of Parliament and declared Paul Mwiru as the duly-elected MP for Jinja- East Municipality, it was established then that the results that had been announced in the 2016 elections from the Polling station of Danina A-D were fraudulent. However, Nabeta rejected justice Mugambe’s ruling by filing a new case in the Court of Appeal, but the court also ruled that the election had fallen short of internationally accepted standards of elections and, therefore, announced a by-election.
CCEDU communication plan for the by-election: To fulfil our mandate of promoting electoral democracy in Uganda, CCEDU will closely observe the processes of by-election through long-term and short-term observers so as to give a balanced picture of the election. CCEDU will achieve this through its robust membership infrastructure.
- As a body mandated with realizing the principles and practices of electoral democracy our core audience are the voters and the citizens. CCEDU urges all those who will participate in the election to ensure they have all the requirements to participate ahead of the by-election. We also urge voters to turn up in large numbers and vote for a candidate of their choice.
- For effective messaging, through-out the pre, during and after the by-election, CCEDU will post captioned pictures on its website, facebook and tweeter accounts so as to keep the voter’s and the country abreast with the processes in the Jinja East constituency.
- The stages of the process that we shall observe and report on are pre-election, which entails voter register update, nomination and campaigns. During elections processes which entails, opening and set-up, polling, counting and tallying.
Conclusion: The conduct of elections in Uganda is guided by the 1995 Constitution of Uganda, the Parliamentary Elections Act and the Electoral Commission Act and CCEDU will observe the Jinja by-election to gauge if it is conducted within the precincts of the law.
Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) Democracy House Plot 1111 Lulume Road, Nsambya P.O. Box 11027 Kampala, Uganda Tel: +256 794 444 410 Fax: +256-414-510498
By Taryn Weninger (University of Simon Fraser University and intern in Research Department at FHRI) & Dr. Fred Sekindi (Director Research, Advocacy and Lobbying at FHRI)