Yet gain, another undressed woman is in the news, as every stomach turns upon watching Zainab Fatuma in scuffle with Police, civil society moans wondering what the worst will be for special interest groups in the 2016 election. What will befall women for example when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law?

Shall we be certain of their participation in the electoral process; we haven’t even mentioned PWD’s, youth, the elderly, farmers, et al.

This FDC Official had seemingly accompanied her candidate but what risks await the many women out there planning to stick in with allegiance to their candidates come the 2016 elections. For now, Ingrid Turinawe and Zainab cases present us with a bitter foretaste of the special interest group abuse, especially in election season.

Our partners at CEONU, WLEDE, FOWODE and WDG through their election observation missions will be aggregating and providing insight into the many incidents of electoral violence that special interest groups find themselves exposed to. On the other hand, we at CCEDU will stay interested in highlighting electoral incidents like Zainab’s which also carry potential to discourage voters from fully participating in the electoral process.

As these events testify, the electoral environment is already getting tense, what citizens need is an authority that will go all the way to protect rather than endanger.

What we have witnessed with FDC Officials Zainab and Ingrid is not only detestable but an awakening alert on what many special interest groups will be bearing in the coming elections. Good thing civil society is committed to dragging these issues into the public light.,

For now,the struggle continues.

Whereas we appreciate that the EC road map is a living document, it is important that the Commission maintains a semblance of predictability of electoral activities and milestones ahead of 2016. Changes in the road map should be made after consultations with relevant representatives of key stakeholders.

Changes in the road map made without consultations may raise suspicion with regard to the motive. The transparency of the Commission is very critical especially in the current political context. It is however important for the EC to widely publicize any such changes as well as ensure that all Ugandans are abreast with the road map to the 2016 elections.

It is also critical to note that some of the changes in the electoral laws brought about by the recent amendments to the Electoral Commission, Presidential and Parliamentary Acts such as: the reduction in polling time from 10 to 9 hours; the increment in candidate nomination fees among others could potentially disenfranchise part of the electorate as well as limit participation of citizens in electoral politics.

People’s space at Hotel Africana was the center of festivity as Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy launched their second voter mobilization effort that will take them throughout the country as they prepare to increase voter interest in the coming 2016 election. .

Led by city comedian Afande Kerekere, the procession was flagged off at YMCA by Father Anastasia Isabirye and went through Buganda road up to People’s space - Hotel Africana, where crowds were treated to performances by Dr Hilderman (of Mazongoto fame) Supu crew and a one Harriet.

The Vice chairman of the electoral commission, Joseph Biribonwa urged stakeholders including CCEDU to remain impartial neutral “I charge all stakeholders to remain non-partisan”, the Vice Chairman also called upon citizens to follow up their registration by voting noting “It's unfair to register, remain with number and not use it." Mc’s Kerekere and KFM’s Catherine Agena treated the crowd to witty engagement as the crowd present braved the mid-day Sun.

Mad Mayerhofer, representing Democratic Governance Facility emphasized CCEDU’s campaign concerns stating “We are trying to reach out to the growing number of people who are apathetic to elections. “

Foundation for Human Rights Director Livingstone Sewanyana also decried the voter apathy and officially launched the effort. The colorful event was punctuated by a performance by Dr Hilderman and a joint public pledge that emphasized the Ugandan commitment to participate in the coming 2016 elections.

 


The guidelines issued by the EC are of course an essential ingredient to guide a semblance of order in the political aspirants’ consultations. However these guidelines ought to have been framed after due consultations with all recognized political parties.

The EC should have in the first instance convened a forum through which it should have sought the views of the parties on the whole question of candidates’ ‘consultative meetings’ even though it is within the EC’s prerogative to issue such procedures.

Although the guidelines are lawful instructions and are binding on all political parties and aspirants, the process of developing them from the surface of it does not seem to have been as consultative as it should have been.

Guidelines of such a nature should have enlisted the enrichment and input from political parties to whom they were majorly being framed for. Short of a thorough consultation, the guidelines may still be interpreted or misinterpreted as simply targeted.

Perceptions of such nature are likely to generate a lot of resistance towards the proposed guidelines as well as act as an impediment to their enforcement.

There is a general assertion that the Ugandan electorate is feeble when it comes to discussing real policy issues especially during political campaigns. Candidates vying for various positions normally take advantage of this inherent supposition to churn out campaign content which is less on policy issues but high on sensationalism and spot-on when it comes to posturing personality over politics. However, if the above presumption is anything to go by, then it may be somewhat inconsistent with (again) the much-peddled narrative that Ugandans have in previous elections 'voted' for those candidates who have consistently sold security as their main campaign platform.

Whatever the case may be, the truth remains, the rhetoric of previous political campaigns has been very light on real issues affecting Ugandans. I use the word 'rhetoric' precisely to stress the point that many times there is always a glaring disconnect between what is contained in candidates' manifestos and what candidates actually articulate when they get on to the campaign trail. This is partly because many of the manifestos are actually 'boardroom manifestos' – drafted and sealed by small groups of people who sit in boardrooms to write them – without necessarily drawing from any form of scientific research or studies around what affects their constituencies.

In fields such as research, those inclined to disputing given research findings will always latch on to the 'methodology'. In elections, however, it is overly becoming the question of the integrity of the 'voters register'. Since 1996, the question of how clean and credible the voters register in Uganda is has come to the fore not once or twice but several times – both from voices that take active part in the elections as voters or candidates and those that at times stand and look from a distance – the election observers. Despite the semblance of normalcy in the May 9th 1996 Presidential elections in Uganda, hundreds of voters were turned away from the polling stations across the country on account of their names missing from the voters roll – actually, the real complaint was that their names which had originally been on the 1994 Constituency Assembly (CA) voters register had been omitted from the 1996 'corrected version' of the national voters roll. The grumblings of how this could have affected the election could ostensibly be heard through the sentiments of those who ran as candidates but can also be traced in observer reports of institutions such as the National Organisation for Civic Education and Election Monitoring (NOCEM). Humble as he is, the then Chairperson of the Interim Electoral Commission, Stephen Besweri Akabway admitted the glitches in the register at that time.