The new eectoral road map recently launched by Electoral Commission chairman Justice Simon Mugenyi Byabakama has angered the opposition in the country.
EC declared that: ” 22nd June – 21st July 2020, Political Parties and Organizations will identify flag bearers.” This declaration was among those that left the incumbent’s enemies bewildered and angered.
All parties, except NRM, say the period of just a month is not enough for them to scrutinize and later choose flag bearers as ordered by the Electoral Commission in the recently released road map.
The Democratic Party president Norbert Mao, while addressing journalists at Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) headquarters earlier last week said whatever was stated by the Commission in the road map looks easy to do on paper but nothing will be possible to implement, according to what is happening in the country and the world at large today.
Mao said starting to identifying party flag bearers this month and finalising on July 21, is very impossible. “Beginning to identify flag bearers on 22nd this very month of June is very impossible.
“We are not ready for that and we are likely not to follow what the Commission has ordered,” Norbert Mao boldly told journalists present at UJA headquarters in Kampala on last week.
Rogers Mulindwa, the ruling party’s spokesperson, however, says the NRM is ready for the forth coming general elections.
Mulindwa says it is saddening that their opponents remained unprepared even after more than three years of laying strategies and devising all means to unseat Museveni in 2021.
Mulindwa told local media that it is true opposition in Uganda “don’t know what they want.” According to Mulindwa, “Scientific campaigns” are cheaper than the usual campaigns that involve traveling to distant places across the country, canvassing for votes.
“Usually candidates refilled their high performance vehicles to move from one place to another looking for votes. This time round contestants are likely not to spend like they usually do,” Mulindwa added.
Mulindwa continues that this time round, one will be in position to canvass for votes from the comfort of their homes. He advises first time campaigners not to worry.
He says some of the seasoned campaigners who are highly connected with even media houses are today very hated by the electorate. Rogers Mulindwa says however much these tested and experienced politicians will convince voters, they will still not vote for them.
He says the opposition would oppose anything that the commission would communicate to the public in the revised road map even if it was stated that elections were postponed.
The opposition wants elections to be postponed until when it is declared safe for people to interact freely again perhaps. Last week the electoral commission unveiled the revised road map that is to be followed by all stakeholders who are to participate in the general elections to be conducted in 2021.
In the revised road map released by the Electoral Commission last week, campaigns will be conducted largely using the media. The Electoral Commission outlined in the revised road map that TVs, Radio stations, social media and newspapers will be some of the platforms that will be used by the candidates at all levels to convince the electorate to vote for them in 2021.
The commission has called this “Scientific General Elections” . EC says such elections will be the only solution if the country is to go on with the forthcoming elections as demanded by the country’s constitution.
Many in the opposition say scientific campaigns cannot enable them reach the voter in the remotest parts of the country where the majority cannot access social media, radio or TV.
The Opposition has also argued that the ownership of most media outlets especially radio stations which is dominated by members of the ruling NRM, is another obstacle in their effort to reach the voters as they will block them from accessing the airwaves.
With such an environment, many politicians have concluded that opting for scientific campaigns and later elections that might be scientific too, might be a strategy to pave a way for the re-election of president Museveni who has been in power for 34 years now.
Political parties opposing President Museveni say that a country like Uganda, where the majority live in remote areas and unable to access social media and television, first-time campaigners like Bobi Wine, boosted by mostly social platforms, will be wasting time if they enter in the race to contest with Museveni who has led for 34 years with now all the resources at his disposal to enable him even pay his way to State House again, and rule for 5 more years .
In areas without power, and radio or television signal, a scientific election will favour only the chosen few, the moneyed ones, like Museveni, who have contested before in the past elections, regime critics and people like former journalist Joseph Kabuleta, and Mao have feared.
Kabuleta, last week dragged the Commission to the same courts that are overseen by their target, Museveni.
Kabuleta says nowhere in the country’s law is such an election recommended. Kabuleta says that such an election must not be allowed in “a free and democratic society.”
He asks authorities not to infringe on the rights of Ugandans, to take part in free and fair elections. In a suit filed at the civil division of the high court on Friday 20 June 2020, Kabuleta wants the court to stop the electoral commission from hastily organising the forthcoming general elections which it, the EC, called “Scentific General Elections “.
If the court rules in favour of Joseph Kabuleta and the the forthcoming elections are extended beyond schedule and Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc beyond May 12, 2020 when the current presidential term expires, as demanded by the constitution, this country is likely to be plunged into political turmoil, for it will now be the speaker ruling which no incumbent under the sun here in Africa can accept, as long as he still lives. They know the consequences.
Some analysts say there is a steep climb to overcome ahead of first time campaigners if the Commission refuses to rethink the roadmap recently released or if the court rules to allow a scientific election process to happen. This kind of election process, they say, will favour the incumbent and his party alone.
After years of studying their enemy, Museveni’s adversaries are clueless on what can be done to uproot the only country’s problem to them, from power. Other political parties now say there is no need for all this hurrying.
Before the lockdown imposed in March was eased and the commission’s coming to unveil the revised road, the same people were saying Museveni had used the situation brought by the pandemic to want to postpone elections.
Except the ruling party, other political parties want the commission to be patient until perhaps the country is declared free from coronavirus.
What is next now? The opposition is calling for mass political rallies so that they may face-to-face talk to their voters.
They say they are ready to wait until the appropriate time when it is safe to interact with their voters has come.
Meanwhile, the NRM, Central Executive Committee led by President Museveni met last weekend in State House Entebbe and threw their support behind the Electoral Commission’s proposed scientific elections.
It appears therefore that as long as the powers that be are in support of the move, no amount of protesting will stop the 2021 elections.