New Electoral Commission, Old Problems
NRM has constantly been accused of election rigging. Wouldn’t that allegation call for caution when priding yourself about President Museveni’s high percentage points? Perhaps real competition would be realized if all there is a free and fair election.Personally, I can support any person who emerges victorious on a free and fair election.
While the Opposition is advocating for Electoral Commission overhaul, NRMO is always resisting the change and want the president who is also a candidate to appoint the members of the commission? Why does it resist the change if it has no direct benefit? Sometimes I wonder if we understand what we do. Under the “Conflict of Interest” clause, the president who is also a candidate should have been aware of the seriousness of conflict of interest and set an example for others to follow.
I see the government not respecting the “Conflict of Interest” when the president who is always the candidate does the selection process of the EC members. In this regard, I see no fault with the Opposition. In parliamentary democracy, it is not the loudness but the quality and respect of arguments that is important. Why should the Opposition work so hard to create the necessary EC reform, doesn’t government have a greater responsibility to ensure free and fair elections?
For me I hold the government responsible for failure in reforming EC; the Opposition and Civic leaders have pointed out the anomalies so it should be the government to rectify them; the Opposition in a democracy puts forward alternative working policies and if there is respect and will to see democracy working, then the government in power implements those suggestions.
Pointing out the merits and demerits of a candidate choosing the referee without soliciting input of the other candidate is wrong.
If government was indeed interested in reforms, I suppose the simplest thing it could do was to ask each Opposition party to nominate persons they think can in the EC and submit all those names to the parliamentary committee to narrow down the list and if they failed in the elections then they would have none but themselves to blame!
The commission is not about one person, the boss. It is the entire body. Our government is not interested in doing a good job. One other approach is to advertise the positions for interested persons to vie for and the best candidates taken, that would somehow make the process of appointment transparent.
Election problems don’t just appear during election day, by that time, all has been done. It is in that respect that foreign election observers often report that the exercise was orderly, peaceful as they declare the results as the reflection of the electorate. On the contrary, the local or national observers cry foul yet both groups observed the same elections. The difference comes from when the rigging started. And often the foreign observers are easily identified because of the colour of their skin so good conduct is encouraged if only to ‘fool” them.
I have always argued that the international community should make use of the nationals of the countries’ they intend to serve, those are people who know the geography, history and tricks of their people and can easily do a better elections or projects’ monitoring, but such exercises attract hefty money, which the foreigners also want.
Suppose the Commonwealth recruited regular members of the UAH forum,and if those are not enough they included Simon to go to monitor elections in Uganda on its behalf, I am sure the report would be different from what their white counterparts report. Because if I am monitoring elections in Teso, nobody would care or identify me as I would get on a bicycle and go to a slum like Campswahili like any ordinary person and I would hear from the people what they did. I say this because this is exactly what happened in 2001 when Mike Mukula mobilized the headmistress of one high school to take girls to vote for President Museveni. These were students who had not been registered and they were under age. What we did was to monitor them take the students and we got the kids arrested and they had to beg us to get the kids released. Yes, when they were doing, they thought nobody could find out what they were doing, they were shocked! They panicked as to what parents would do but on our part, we did not want the kids to suffer in police cells or be produced in court for they were innocent, what we did was to expose them and also to teach the kids not to ever accept to be used.
There many ways rigging takes place, that is why an independent and trustworthy commission is necessary but of course it doesn’t mean it will be 100% good; we acknowledge human error but let it be an error.
I guess we have spent a fairly long time on this issue, people of all walks of life have addressed themselves to this issue and it is up to government to hear their calls or reject it, at the right time, it will be called to account for its actions.
Peter Simon via UAH