The Citizen Coalition For Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) has developed a partnership with Record TV to popularize the Electoral Reform Agenda through social media and the various engagement platforms that Record TV has. Record TV has platforms such as lunch time request, Ekitobeero, Current Affairs Show, Day breaker, Wano na Wali (news segment) all segments that are highly engaging. These platforms allow for intermittent information sharing and have vast audiences that CCEDU hopes to utilize.  CCEDU and Record TV have agreed to start engagements with some of the materials CCEDU has developed to advance electoral democracy, but particularly focus on CCEDU’s 2019 Open Letter to the President.  Record TV is on star-times, Go-TV and free to air channels and will soon sign up to DSTV. CCEDU was particularly excited about the 12 million social media feeds that RECORD TV garners in a day. The two organisations are developing social media based activities to support CCEDU’s upcoming media campaigns.

Record TV broadcasts in 156 countries and on 5 continents and has quality image. CCEDU envisages a boost on social media especially twitter and facebook by partnering with Record TV.  In a pictorial we capture the communication team as they discussed the partnership with Ezekiel Motsoeneng, Managing Director, Record TV.

The newly created district of Kapelebyong risks returning sh1.2billion to the Government treasury due to a rift between the Chief Administrative Officer Nasser Mukiibi and the interim district council. The interim district council argues their term in office expired on January 20, 2019 and their hands are tied because the Government has not conducted the much needed elections.

“Most of the substantive district positions are not filled because we do not have elected leaders in office,” said the Chief Administration Officer, Nasser Mukiibi

Kaplebyong became a district when parliament approved it in July 2017 anticipating that by July 2018 elections would have been held and the district would be fully operational which has not been the case.

Todate the district awaits the election of its district leaders. According to the Esther Lucy Isipa, the sub-county Election Officer (SEO) Kapelebyong, the roadmap for the new district elections was developed long time ago, but the Commission awaits funds from the ministry of Finance to be able to conduct the Election.

Relatedly, a local citizen of Kapelebyong by the name Michael Omoji Ebwayi has dragged the Chief Administration Officer (CAO) Kapelebyong, Nasser Mukiibi. to court for continuing to operate with an interim district council whose term expired on 20th January 2019, without any communication from the Government.

The citizen contends that Mukiibi continues to facilitate the interim LCV chairman whose term expired on 20th January 2019. “The CAO should answer to the district councillors and the locals for such an anomaly,” reads the letter which this reporter saw. The CAO on the other hand says it is no fault of his own. “The Citizen who is suing me is not informed. He should be suing the Attorney General for lack of Elections and not the CAO,” said Mukiibi.

If the elections had been conducted, Kaplebyong district would have been well set on a journey to resolve some of the contentious issues in the district. Kapelebyong district is largely faced with the problem of land disputes, high school drop outs (70% for the 14-15 year olds), defilement, domestic violence, poor road and internet infrastructure and widespread poverty.

According to the district CAO, while some districts in Uganda are close to attaining a middle income status as per the Government vision 2020, Kapelebyong has not moved an inch to attaining that status because its only seven months old.

Mukiibi said: “We have a high levels of defilement, high school drop-out rates and early marriages as the factors affecting the education sector in the district.”

The over 150 participants in the community baraza demanded that the Government consider to conduct elections immediately to resolve the district leadership crisis.

One of the aspiring Local Council Five (LCV) chairperson, Richard Enyangu said: “The biggest problem the people of Kapelebyong face is the border conflict between Teso and Karamoja. Nobody knows the proper boundaries between the two regions., so if I am elected district chairperson I will work towards establishing the boundaries and ending the fierce conflicts between these two communities.”

William Alloch, another chairman LCV contender said: “the problem in Kapelebyong is the lack of clean water for drinking and home usage.”

Francis Akorikin cited the problem of poor roads and high school drop-out rates, plus early marriages as his priority issues to resolve should he assume office.

Winifred Adio an aspiring woman MP for Kaplebyong district, said if she is elected into leadership she would promote the education of the girl-child.

Kapelebyong district was curved out of Amuria district in Eastern Uganda. It became a district with effect from July 1st 2018 together with Kikuube, Bugweri, Kassanda, Kwania, & Nabilatuk.

A female youth raises her issues on land disputes, teenage pregnancies and high school dropout rates during the community baraza and leadership debate in Kapelebyong on 14th Feb 2019.

The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative organised a community Baraza in the newly created district of Kapelebyong, today Thursday 14th, February 2019, to raise citizen consciousness on how to elect good district leaders and Members of Parliament. The potential LC5 candidates namely: Erwagu Simon, an Independent, Francis Akorikin - NRM, Stephen Eselu- FDC, William Alloch- an Independent, Richard Enyagu-an Independent and Tom Okello – an Independent and the local women Mps aspirants namely: Angela Arego , an independent, Gloria Ojakal- an Independent, Jacinta Atuto- NRM, Joyce Ajupo-   an independent, Florence Adupo – FDC, Regina Asio – independent but NRM leaning, Caro Eric Akello- independent but NRM leaning, Ketty Akol- UPC and Winifred Adio- UPC were given a chance to speak to the electorate and present their manifestos.

Kapelebyong District is found in the Teso Sub-Region of Eastern Uganda. The district has 5 sub counties( Obalanga, Acowa, Kapelebyong, Okungur, 29 Parishes and 220 villages.

The district has over 76 schools currently with 10 Nursery Schools, 59 Primary Schools, 7 Secondary Schools; with 5 government secondary schools, 41 primary, 1 seed school & 1 ECD Centre.

Majority of the people are farmers and mainly grow sweet potatoes, cassava, groundnuts & cotton.

On July 1, 2019, six other new districts namely; Obongi, Kazo, Rwampara, Kitagwenda, Madi- Okollo, Karenga and Lusot will be effected.

By Charity Ahimbisibwe

Senior Communications Officer

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Civil Society Organisation – Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy (CCEDU) has written an open letter to president in which they list what should be in place as the 2021 General Election season sets in.

The letter that highlights three key challenges that have afflicted Uganda’s elections in the recent past including monetization of elections and corruption in electoral processes, integrity of the national voters register and violence during elections proposes to the President remedies that require prompt action to restore the integrity of elections in Uganda.

“as a fountain of honour, champion laws and practices that guarantee a level playing field for electoral contestations in Uganda, support the establishment of a binding code of conduct for political parties as well as rebuilding public confidence in institutions that are charged with dispensing democracy”, reads the letter in part.

At the beginning of 2018, the consortium of civil society organisation had written a similar letter asking the president to establish an independent constitutional review process and launch a national dialogue process. By the end the year, the president had only launched the dialogue which was being driven by the National Elders Forum. Although it faced major criticism among especially members who were questioning what effect it’s likely to have on the current status quo. Many anticipated it may not yield much.

 

Crispin Kaheru is the Coordinator of the Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy (CCEDU) which recently wrote an open letter to President Museveni on electoral reforms. He spoke to Ian Katusiime about the issues raised.

In your open letter to the President, you talk about monetisation of elections but this sounds futile given that it is the preferred method of the President when he is campaigning.  

It is true there have been allegations that the President thrives on the use of money and we have also seen his actions point in that direction. But it’s a wrong thing, you can’t depend on money to win an election or to bribe voters. And there is a foul effect of money in elections, the reason we are appealing to the President to take steps to back up his words with actions. He has gone on record denouncing the use of money to win elections and we want to believe his words. We are asking him to support the Campaign Finance Bill 2018 then we will know he is genuine. If not we will continue to doubt him. Campaign spending must be regulated.

You talk about the Campaign Finance Bill 2018 as a solution. But we know how laws are disregarded in this country.

That is a first level solution. If you would like to secure institutional backing to fight illicit use of money in elections then you need a legal framework and presently it doesn’t exist. If we have a law to regulate campaign spending, that is a first step. For example if you go to the Electoral Commission (EC) and report to them a complaint about one of the candidates in a given constituency using lots of money to campaign, the first question would be: is there a law that prohibits enormous amounts of money in an election? The answer is it doesn’t exist.

Are there ways the national register can be improved to avoid the usual ghost voters?

It is possible. First we have made a fundamental move from a manual to an automatic voters’ register that is derived from the national ID registry. That, we have done perfectly well; especially with the coming into effect of the Registration of Persons Act. What needs to happen is for us to clean the national ID register as the main master document so that by the time the EC extracts from the national voters register, it is doing so from a clean mother document.

Ugandans are very keen on registering to obtain a national ID because it is required at a bank, at work, hospital but the same Ugandans are not keen on registering deaths. Because of that laxity, we find so many ghosts on the national ID register and on the voters’ register. For us to be able to clean that up, we need to run a sustained campaign to tell Ugandans that it is important for Ugandans to register family and friends who have passed on. If you don’t, the ghosts will stay on the register. I think if we run that campaign in collaboration with National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA), EC, the citizens of this country, then we are actually closer to getting a clean national voters’ register. It is also important to file reports of Ugandans who have forfeited their citizenship.

In spite of all this energy you have to get people to register for National IDs, there is still apathy to vote in elections. As CCEDU, how do you work around this?

The main area of interest for CCEDU is to get more and more people to exercise their franchise. What we do is we run different citizen and voter mobilisation campaigns. If you recall, in 2011 when opposition political parties were going to boycott the election, our remedy was that people can pronounce themselves on governance issues by participating rather than by staying away. So we came up with the ‘honour your vote’ campaign in 2011. In 2015 when EC and government kicked off the mass enrollment for national ID, we supported the process through the votability campaign. And over 95% of Ugandans that were supposed to register went and registered. In 2016 we had the ‘Topowa’ campaign where we mobilised people despite the logistical challenges that affected the election. I think 68% was a substantial figure based on the 57% that turned up in 2011.  So those are the campaigns that we run.

Now that government is launching an effort at sub- county level to register people for National IDs, we as CCEDU are also planning to launch a massive nation-wide campaign to support the process. Get your national ID because it is your gateway to exercising your voting right and we will launch that in February.

This Interview was published by The Independent Magazine.

Before the 2016 Uganda elections, examples of Ugandans who did not show up to update their names on the national voter’s register abound. When the Electoral Commission announced the National display exercise people took it lightly arguing that they had voted in the previous elections and so their names were on the voter’s register. When the election day finally came in February 2016, a number of them were shocked to find their names missing on the voter’s register. Their names were missing because a new voter’s register had been generated and produced by the Electoral Commission as mandated by law.

During the 2016 elections, many Ugandans also found their names missing from the National Voter’s register because they did not know that the information they had given during the registration for the National ID was the very information that the Electoral Commission was going to use to determine their polling stations. As such some people did not vote because their names on the National Voter’s register were posted to polling stations that were far from where they lived. This was a shortfall on the side of the voter because it is they that gave the information. Another issue was that some names were wrongly spelt during the national ID registration exercise, so when it came to the time for the National Voter’s update exercise, the electoral officials regarded those who wanted to change their names as cases of impersonation and deleted them from the national voter’s register. CCEDU has specific examples of where these incidents happened. This category of voters’ were also disenfranchised or denied their right to vote because of misspelt names. In other instances candidates who stood for elections in the 2016 elections used their private radio stations to discourage voter’s from participating in the national ID registration process and later the National voter’s update programme. Having listened in to the stations, some voters ignored these key Government processes and subsequently failed to participate in the 2016 electoral process.

Another issue that was encountered by voters’ in the 2016 General Elections concerning the National Voter’s Register was the allegation that the Electoral Commission used NRM cadres in some areas as EC officials to conduct the voter update and display exercise. There were claims that these NRM cadres were recommended for the EC jobs by DISO’s and GISOs and at times the RDC. However, as the EC plans activities around the Voter update exercise, CCEDU, implores the Electoral Commission to audit the allegations and if found to be true use impartial citizens as Electoral officers so that Ugandans of all political parties will look at them as objective and, therefore, feel motivated to participate in the National Voters’ update exercise. These and many others are some of the underlying issues that pushed the Citizen’s Coalition For Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) to write an open Letter to the President highlighting the need to interrogate the issues surrounding a clean voter’s register ahead of the 2021 elections. .

The writer Ms. Charity Ahimbisibwe chats with the EC Chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama at the EC offices in Kampala recently.

These and many others are some of the underlying issues that pushed the Citizen’s Coalition For Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) to write an open Letter to the President highlighting the need to interrogate the issues surrounding a clean voter’s register ahead of the 2021 elections.

In an open letter to the President CCEDU states that: many people are enthusiastic about registering for the national ID for the sake of getting one, but the letter highlights the question of deaths. Who takes stock of the deaths? This question still begs an answer from the authorities. And, therefore, CCEDU in its Open Letter to the President, states it can neither confirm nor deny the existence of ghost voters on the national voter’s register. Such uncertainty begs for thorough interrogation of the issue and locating an amicable solution in the lifetime of the Electoral Commission Roadmap.

CCEDU is committed to supporting a credible processes intended to genuinely clean the national voters register and help create an enabling environment for citizen participation in our democracy and in a quest to find amicable solutions to the enormous issues surrounding the National Voter’s register, CCEDU implores the Government and all stakeholders to remain committed to collaborate with the wanainchi, especially with regard to publicizing on-going citizen registration exercises, alongside articulating the importance of the registration of deaths and of persons who have left the country or denounced Ugandan citizenship. Citizen vigilance from village to national level will be central in framing a clean and credible national voters register ahead of the 2021 elections.

By Charity. Kalebbo. Ahimbisibwe

Senior Communications and Advocacy Manager

Citizens’ Coalition For Electoral Democracy in Uganda