Political Parties want soldiers thrown out of the electoral process, nomination fees reduced by 50 percent

Ugandan opposition presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, is escorted by policemen during his arrest in Kalangala in central Uganda, Dec. 30, 2020.

Ugandan opposition presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, is escorted by policemen during his arrest in Kalangala in central Uganda, Dec. 30, 2020 (PHOTO/Reuters)

KAMPALA — Political Parties under their umbrella association, the National Consultative Forum (NCF) want nomination fees in Uganda’s general elections cut by a whopping 50%—saying the development will spur inclusive participation and leadership.

Speaking during a one day consultative meeting on electoral reforms organized by NCF in partnership with Sensitise Uganda and the International Republican Institute (IRI), representatives from different political parties said there’s no direct correlation between somebody being wealthy and being a good leader —suggesting that nomination fees need to be reduced by more than a half.

“If you look at the amount of money that is paid as nomination fees beginning from the highest office of the president, then moving down to the Members of Parliament, LC5 and others, the money is too much and we are saying that the new law looks at reducing it at least by 50% so that all eligible people who may not necessarily be rich Ugandans can be able to participate in elections and in the governance of their country,” Ms. Jolly Mugisha, the Chairperson of the National Consultative Forum told reporters.

Dr. Patrick Wakida, head of Research World International, an organization that carries out political opinion surveys in Uganda, says candidates competing against members of the ruling party start the election at a disadvantage.

In his opinion, the electoral commission doesn’t need the money raised by the nomination fees.

“Ideally they shouldn’t be charging,” he said. “They are already funded; they already have money from the treasury. When they go to the extent of again asking people for three million shillings, in my view, that is not proper. It puts very many people to the disadvantage.”

The Electoral Commission maintains it is parliament that established the fee and the commission is only following the law.

The other proposals include developing a legal framework to allow Ugandans in the Diaspora and prisons vote, curbing commercialisation in politics and a framework for continuous civic and voter education.

“We are looking at the lack of adequate information about voting and elections, many Ugandans don’t know how to vote because we get a lot of invalid votes, but also many people don’t see the reason why they should vote. They cannot link leadership or governance with the service delivery. So we are saying that there should be a law in place for continued civic education, just like it was long ago, civic education needs to begin from primary schools and even continues to higher institutions,” Ms. Mugisha said.

Members also suggested that soldiers should stay away from politics and electoral exercises.

The military has in previous elections been criticized for the heavy deployment of personnel during the elections, leaving many voters intimidated by their presence in some areas.

The military presence normally gets particularly heavy in Kampala, where scores of armored vehicles with mounted guns rotate around Kampala and other parts of the country, a development that political parties say is aimed at threatening voters and members of the opposition.

Ms. Mugisha said a detailed write up on the areas for reforms and provisions of the law which need to be strengthened involving the role of the Resident District Commissioners and other public servants in elections, curbing bribery and funding of all Political Parties and Organisations will be submitted to the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in due course.

The electoral reform proposals are being supported by Sensitise Uganda, a registered Non-Government Organization (NGO) registered with the NGO Bureau under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, whose mission is to sensitise, raise awareness and build the capacity of Ugandans on various socio-economic and political challenges.

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