Mbale Voters Castigate Electoral Commission For Failing To Conduct Voter Sensitization

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MBALE 

A section of voters in Mbale district have expressed ignorance about the 2021 general elections.

In a mini survey carried out by this website this week, many voters are pinning the Electoral Commission for not carrying out its mandate of voter sensitization.

According to some voters, since the conclusion of 2016 general elections, they have never attended any activity organized by the Commission.

The voters instead castigate the Commission of always operating in isolation something they say has left the voters uninformed and ignorant about their activities.

Masuba Juma 31, a resident and a voter in Munkaga polling station in Mbale municipality says that despite his willingness to attend electoral commission sensitization meetings since he became eligible voter in 2011, he has never come across any meeting organized by the commission with the aim of enlightening the electorates.

Due to the gap, Masuba vows never to go to any polling station to vote unless the body responsible for conducting elections inducts his community.

Musaba thinks that the Commission deliberately refuses to educate voters in some parts of the country in order to keep them uninformed and vulnerable to ease different voter malpractices.

Meanwhile Counsel Sam Khaukha of Sekabwenya & CO Advocates Law Firm says that before reprimanding Electoral Commission of any shortfalls, the voters need to first question its independence.

Khaukha says that the country should start with revising the appointing authority of the Commission head. Khaukha argues that because the President is the appointing authority, the Commission head is obligated to please him.

The Mbale District Youth Chairperson, Mwanje Yahaya joined some of his electorate in pinning the Electoral Commission on low voter mobilization. He argues that low voter mobilization was best evidenced in the previous general election where over 40% of the population never turned up to vote

The Mbale Municipality Deputy Mayor, Harriet Kakai acknowledged the fact that even in her capacity she has never attended any induction meeting organized by the  Electoral Commission to educate voters.

The Deputy Mayor instead says that the commission has left for them the role of sensitizing voters and yet they as politicians are just supposed to add to the voice of the Commission.

The Eastern Uganda regional Citizen Coalition on Electoral Democracy in Uganda, CEDU representative Yusufu Makweta noted that there is still a big gap in voter education.

He said that the Electoral Commission always waits when it’s approaching time for elections for them to begin the sensitive exercise noting that this is a continuous process that needs frequent performance.

However, Makweta says that as civil societies, their next move is to ensure that the proposed electoral reforms by the Supreme Court during the verdict of Amama Mbabazi Presidential Electoral Petition of 2016 are implemented.

Some of the reforms the supreme suggested are that the time for filing and determination of the petition be reviewed and necessary amendments be made to the law to increase it to at least 60 days, that the use of affidavit evidence be amended such that oral evidence is used in addition to affidavit evidence, that the time of holding fresh elections in case presidential elections are annulled be increased from 20 days to a more longer and more realistic time-frame.

Robert Mugabe, the Deputy Register Mbale District however said that as Electoral Commission they have been on ground since the previous elections sensitizing voters on the roles during election and the latest being school and tertiary institution voter education. He however declined to mention the institutions where they are carrying out sensitization.

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