On January 30, 2018, the Kenyan government shut down four news channels; Citizen TV, Inooro TV, NTV and KTN for announcing plans to air the swearing-in of opposition leader Raila Odinga as president.
Kenyans took to the streets of Nairobi and through various social platforms, protested the closure. The protest was joined by lawyers, who, on February 1, went to court and ordered a 14-day suspension of the shutdown to allow for a legal challenge.
These protests and condemnations by citizens who know and value the role of the media, is a lesson Ugandans should pick.
Unfortunately, in Uganda, it has become common for government to shut down media houses as and when it pleases. During the 2016 elections, social media was shut down on Election Day in February and as Yoweri Museveni swore-in as president on 12th May.
Most recently, since September 2017 to date, media houses have been on the receiving end of crackdown. The Red Pepper (and by extension its sister publications), was in November shut down following the publication of a story that government says was in breach of national security, among other charges. The paper only resumed operations on 29 January 2018 after meeting President Museveni and getting a ‘presidential pardon’.
Before that, several upcountry radio stations were shut down for airing content relating to the presidential age limit removal contained in Article 102(b) of the Constitution. Uganda Communications Commission, in all counts stated that the stations were in breach of minimum broadcasting standards. Relatedly, editors of Daily Monitor and Red Pepper were summoned by police in relation to publishing stories about the presidential age limit debate, while a ban was slapped on live media coverage of the same.
Through all these crackdown against the media, Ugandans remain conspicuously silent, except for a few voices on social media and by civil society organisations. These voices eventually died down.
In my view, the problem of intimidation of journalists and the crackdown against the media can be solved if the Ugandan public learned from their Kenyan counterparts. Every-time a media house is shut down, Ugandans should protest using social media and various legal means. If the local press cannot carry the story of the shutdown, the international media will pick it up and keep it running. The idea is not to relent every time intimidation rears its ugly head.
Secondly, media houses should at all times publish fact-based and objective stories. These stories will speak for themselves in courts of law and in the eyes of the public. While some journalists lack professionalism, this should be addressed so that the entire media fraternity is not exposed to high-handedness by the state and individuals because of lapses by a few rotten eggs.
By Charity Ahimbisibwe
Charity is the Communication and Advocacy Manager at FHRI/CCEDU
The nomination exercise for the Jinja East Municipality by election took place on Febuary 13 and 14, 2018 at the Jinja district headquarters. The EC nomination team that was led by the Jinja district Returning Officer (RO) Mr. Rogers Serunjogi and assisted by a team from EC HQ processed all candidates as per the required procedure.
Processing for nomination was on first come first served basis, all candidates were first verified at a desk staffed by EC HQ staff. At this station, the verification team looked up for proper identification of the nominee, certificate of education as issued by the National Higher of Education, proof of payment of the UGX 3,000,000 as required by law, lists of seconders.. Upon fulfillment of all requirements the nominee is sent to the RO that receives photograph from the nominee before pronouncing the candidate as dully nominated.
At the same location, all candidates were required to hand in respective campaign programs that are to be harmonized on Thursday February 15 2018 at a meeting to be convened by the Jinja District RO.
By the close of day 02, only 08 of the 16 Persons that had picked forms of interest to participate managed to turnup to be dominated.
|Febuary 13||Mayemba Faisal||Male||Independent|
|Febuary 13||Nathan Igeme Nabeeta||Male||NRM|
|Febuary 13||Paul Mwiru||Male||FDC|
|Febuary 13||Francis Wakabi||Male||Independent|
|Febuary 14||Richard Nyanzi||Male||Independent|
|Febuary 14||Abuze Monica (Ms)||Female||Independent|
|Febuary 14||Mugaya Paul Davidson||Male||PPP|
|Febuary 14||Isabirye Hatimu||Male||Independent|
Upon nomination all candidates had a brief interaction with various media houses highlighting key aspects of their manifestos before proceeding to various destinations were the first campaign rallies were held.
Francis Wakabi and Nyanzi Richard had issues with photographs submitted as they didn’t meet the requirements prescribed by law. Though dully nominated, they were required to furnace the RO with the right photographs.
FDC leaning Candidates complained that the party didn’t hold primaries prior to the nominations. Paul Mwiru the FDC flag bearer self-pronounced as the flag bearer for the race.
Isabirye Hatimu (Independent) is not a registered voter of Jinja East constituency.
Isabirye Hatimu after being nominated.Even though nominated Isabirye is not a registered voter for Jinja East. He was advised to effect transfer to Jinja municipality so as to vote on March 15 2018.
Nalukwago and Mwaka.
Introduction: Given its broad mandate of realizing a Uganda where the principles and practices of electoral democracy are upheld, the Citizen’s Coalition For Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) will observe the Jinja East constituency by-election slated for March 15. As a means of enhancing citizen participation in Uganda’s electoral processes, CCEDU was today, February 13, 2018, in Jinja to mobilize citizens for the processes ahead of the by-election. Since its establishment, CCEDU has been a leading player in advocacy for electoral reforms, observation of general and by-elections and civic/voter education campaigns.
Nomination Process: The nomination processes as observed by CCEDU was smooth with no eventualities. 16 people picked nominations forms, but so far four candidates have been cleared. These are Faisal Mayemba an independent candidate, Nathan Igeme Nabeta (NRM), Paul Mwiru (FDC), Francis Wakabi (independent). The Jinja East by-election is anticipated to be one of the most contentious by-elections this year. At nomination, Paul Mwiru said: “This is not an election between me and Nabeta, but one between me and President Museveni.”
Hon Mwiru addressing the media after the nomination.
During nomination, Nabeta and his team insisted he is an educated man and will win the by-election. According to press reports, a new by-election was announced on January 12, 2018, by the Court of Appeal. On July 18, 2016, the High Court judge, Lydia Mugambe ordered Nathan Igeme Nabeta out of Parliament and declared Paul Mwiru as the duly-elected MP for Jinja- East Municipality, it was established then that the results that had been announced in the 2016 elections from the Polling station of Danina A-D were fraudulent. However, Nabeta rejected justice Mugambe’s ruling by filing a new case in the Court of Appeal, but the court also ruled that the election had fallen short of internationally accepted standards of elections and, therefore, announced a by-election.
CCEDU communication plan for the by-election: To fulfil our mandate of promoting electoral democracy in Uganda, CCEDU will closely observe the processes of by-election through long-term and short-term observers so as to give a balanced picture of the election. CCEDU will achieve this through its robust membership infrastructure.
- As a body mandated with realizing the principles and practices of electoral democracy our core audience are the voters and the citizens. CCEDU urges all those who will participate in the election to ensure they have all the requirements to participate ahead of the by-election. We also urge voters to turn up in large numbers and vote for a candidate of their choice.
- For effective messaging, through-out the pre, during and after the by-election, CCEDU will post captioned pictures on its website, facebook and tweeter accounts so as to keep the voter’s and the country abreast with the processes in the Jinja East constituency.
- The stages of the process that we shall observe and report on are pre-election, which entails voter register update, nomination and campaigns. During elections processes which entails, opening and set-up, polling, counting and tallying.
Conclusion: The conduct of elections in Uganda is guided by the 1995 Constitution of Uganda, the Parliamentary Elections Act and the Electoral Commission Act and CCEDU will observe the Jinja by-election to gauge if it is conducted within the precincts of the law.
Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) Democracy House Plot 1111 Lulume Road, Nsambya P.O. Box 11027 Kampala, Uganda Tel: +256 794 444 410 Fax: +256-414-510498
By Taryn Weninger (University of Simon Fraser University and intern in Research Department at FHRI) & Dr. Fred Sekindi (Director Research, Advocacy and Lobbying at FHRI)
Issued: August 30, 2016
The Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) was launched on 19th August 2009. CCEDU is a broad coalition that brings together over 850 like-minded civil society organizations and over 25,000 individuals to advocate for electoral democracy in Uganda. The CCEDU secretariat is hosted by the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI). CCEDU’s vision is to realize a Uganda where the principles and practices of electoral democracy are upheld. Its mission is to advance integrity and citizen participation in Uganda’s electoral process. CCEDU carries out its work in all districts and regions of Uganda. Since its establishment, CCEDU has been a leading player in advocacy for electoral reforms, observation of general and by-elections and civic/voter education campaigns.
CCEDU has a special mandate to observe Elections in conformity with the relevant international instruments governing election observation and the Constitution and National Laws of the Republic of Uganda.
This statement presents the overall observations of the conduct of Election Day process of the CCEDU Election Observation Mission in the five districts.
CCEDU finds that the Election Day processes were relatively peaceful and better organized from an administration perspective. Polling officials knew polling day procedures and generally followed the legal provisions on opening of the polling station, set up, voting, closing and counting. However, there were some challenges during the polling process notably some voters who were not permitted to vote. Additionally, although the election procedures allow for assisted voting, CCEDU noted cases of voters who were assisted to vote in many of the polling stations observed.
Set Up and opening
Although many polling stations opened after 7am, the polling officials generally followed the laid out procedures for opening and set up. Additionally, the few incidents of missing materials mainly indelible ink were also resolved.
During the voting process, polling officials at most polling stations followed procedures and the Biometric Voter Verification System (BVVS) relatively functioned well.
In 84 of 100 polling stations observed, voters were checked for ink before receiving a ballot.
· All polling stations observed had the BVVS. In 84 of 100 polling stations observed the BVVS functioned properly. Among the 16 that malfunctioned, 10 were fixed and 3 were replaced.
· Polling officials instructed voters on voting procedures in 89 of the 100 polling stations observed
· In 86 of the 100 polling stations observed, voters were able to vote in secret.
· In 66 of the 100 polling stations observed, there were no unauthorized personnel present inside the polling station. However, police and crime preventers were present in 19 of polling stations.
· High numbers of voters were assisted to vote. In 78 of the 100 polling stations observed some (1 – 14) voters were assisted to vote. In 6 of the polling stations observed more than 15 voters were assisted to vote. Unidentified people assisted voters in 67 of the 100 polling stations observed, while election officials and party agents assisted voters in 16 and 14 of the polling stations respectively contrary to the law.
Chart 1 representing number of voters assisted to vote based on data from 100 polling stations observed by CCEDU
Polling Stations with CCEDU Observers
Polling stations with between 1-14 voters assisted to Vote
NRM party agents were present in all the 5 districts (in 99 of the 100 polling stations observed), Independent candidates agents present in Kagadi, Kakumiro, Omoro and Rubanda (in 85 of the 100 polling stations observed) and FDC party agents present in Kagadi, Kibaale, Omoro and Rubanda (in 78 polling stations observed.) However UPC, DP and PP party agents presence is limited to Omoro district.
· In 84 of the 100 polling stations observed, all voters in queue by 4pm were able to vote.
Counting and Declaration of Results
· In 99 of the 100 polling stations, polling officials opened the ballot box and sorted ballots in full view of the candidates’ agents.
· 62 of polling stations did not have unauthorized personnel present during counting. However, 23 of polling stations observed had police present and 22 of polling stations had crime preventers present.
· Party agents are useful in an election because they can deter fraud especially if they are vigilant and loyal to their candidate/party. During counting NRM party agents were present in all the 5 districts (in 98 of the 100 polling stations observed), Independent candidates agents present in Kagadi, Kakumiro, Omoro and Rubanda (in 82 of the 100 polling stations observed) and FDC party agents present in Kagadi, Kibaale, Omoro and Rubanda (in 74 polling stations observed.) However UPC and DP presence is limited to Omoro district. PPP party agents were not present during counting in any district.
· Where party agents of NRM were present, their agents signed the Declaration of Results form in 94 of 100 polling stations. They refused to sign in 5 of the 100 polling stations observed.
· Where agents of FDC were present, their agents signed the Declaration of Results form in 72 of 100 polling stations. Where FDC agents were present, they refused to sign in 4 of the 100 polling stations observed.
· Where party agents of UPC were present, their agents signed the Declaration of Results form in 15 of 100 polling stations. They refused to sign in 0 of the 100 polling stations observed.
· Where party agents of DP were present, their agents signed the Declaration of Results form in 15 of 100 polling stations. They refused to sign in 2 of the 100 polling stations observed.
· Where party agents of PPP were present, their agents signed the Declaration of Results form in 6 of 100 polling stations. They refused to sign in 0 of the 100 polling stations observed.
· Where party agents of independent candidates were present, their agents signed the Declaration of Results form in 79 of 100 polling stations. They refused to sign in 8 of the 100 polling stations observed.
· Election results were posted publicly at 86 of the 100 polling stations observed and in all the polling station observed the presiding officer sealed a copy of the DR form in the tamper evident envelope for transmission to the Returning officer.
Critical Incident Reports
CCEDU received 22 critical incidents and verified 17. The highest number of incidents reported from Rubanda (7) and Kakumiro (6) Kagadi (2) and Omoro (1) had the least number of incidents reported.
· Vote buying/voter bribery was the most reported incidents in Rubanda, Omoro and Kakumiro
· Incidents of violence including disruption of voting were the second most reported in Kakumiro, Omoro and Kagadi
· Incidents of unauthorized persons assisting others to vote were the third most reported critical incidents reported in Kakumiro.
· In Rubanda there was also a case of impersonation of voters reported.
· In Omoro voting ended at 5:00pm but voting materials from the polling stations arrived at the tally centre at 10:40pm.
Despite the fact that there were a few incidents of violence reported, CCEDU applauds voters in Kagadi, Kakumiro, Kibaale, Omoro and Rubanda for maintaining peace and calm during the elections. However, CCEDU is concerned that voters are increasingly demanding for bribes from candidates which is a point of concern in our electoral processes. CCEDU urges voters to desist from demanding for bribes and urges candidates to desist from buying voters.
CCEDU remains committed to improving the integrity of electoral processes in Uganda.
For God and my country.
Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda
 The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda is the primary law in Uganda; it has provisions in governing elections. The constitutional provisions on elections are buttressed by statute law contained in: The Presidential Elections Act No.16 of 2005 as amended, The Parliamentary Elections Act No.17 of 2005 as amended, The Local Governments Act 1997 as amended, The Electoral Commission Act Cap. 243. The Political parties and Organizations Act