H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
President of the Republic of Uganda
Office of the President
CCEDU LETTER TO H.E THE PRESIDENT OF UGANDA
Congratulations on completing the year, 2018. This letter is in line with our tradition of writing to you at the beginning of every year. Mr. President, in this letter for 2019, we highlight three (3) key challenges that have afflicted elections in the recent past, and propose remedies that we believe will require urgent collective action to restore the integrity of elections in Uganda.
Monetization of elections and corruption in electoral processes:* Your Excellency, incidents of voter bribery plagued elections in 2018. As the Chairman of the NRM political party, you must be concerned as we are, that your party reported various electoral malpractices, including incidents of voter briberyduring the Jinja East Constituency by-election that took place on 15th March, 2018. We laud your public condemnation of voter bribery, and we urge you to translate it into tangible actions, because inability to do so, sends mixed messages. For example, the shillings 5 billion donation to 128 SACCO groups in Rukungiri on Sunday 15th April 2018, weeks prior to the Rukungiri district woman MP by-election, was largely perceived by the public as mobilizing electoral support for your party in the by-election of 31st May 2018 and, therefore, an attempt to influence the voters choice using money. In addition, previous elections have been marked by allegations of mismanagement of public resources to fund electoral campaigns.
Your Excellency, it is estimated that the total amount spent by the Electoral Commission, political parties (including NRM and FDC), and candidates (including independent candidates and those from the Go Forward movement) for the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections was about 3 trillion shillings(2.4 trillion campaign spending, and about 500 billion spent by the Electoral Commission). This amounts to approximately 12.5% of Ugandas annual budget. Your Excellency, one of the implications of using (enormous) public resources to finance personal political ambitions is to give the incumbent(s) an unfair advantage over their opponents. It also creates a cycle of corruption, in that public funds are stolen in order to finance political campaigns, and political victors loot the public coffers to accumulate wealth, recoup their illicit investment in the electoral exercise, and maintain influence over the electorate.
Your Excellency, as a first step in averting this worrying trend, we must hinge electoral politics on a value-system that denotes competency, integrity and vision. Secondly, it is time to regulate campaign financing by setting and implementing limits for campaign spending for elective positions. _The Election Campaign Financing Bill, 2018_ , among other issues, seeks to regulate campaign financing during elections. We, therefore, call on Your Excellency to translate your public condemnation of voter bribery into action, by supporting the expeditious enactment of this law.
*2 Integrity of the national voters register:* There are still challenges that afflict the national voters register. Complaints of ghost voters remain. Your Excellency, in order to rid the voters register of any ineligible voters, the Electoral Commission and the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) need 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.
*3 Violence during elections:* Your Excellency, a reflection on the history of elections in Uganda indicates an unabated trend of violence. Last year, Uganda witnessed hostile political campaigns in Bugiri, and more especially Arua, and this hostility reverberated across the country and beyond.
Your Excellency, with specific regard to last years election violence, we invite you to support an impartial, transparent and conclusive inquiry into the cause of the violence, including the allegations of stoning the presidential motorcade during the Arua by-election.
Our shared commitment to peace and prosperity in our nation needs to be supported by transparency and the rule of law. Completing investigations and bringing to book all culprits, including those security officials who unlawfully tortured and killed Ugandans in the melee that ensued is critical for us as a society to learn from this episode and do better going forward.
With barely two years left to the 2021 general elections, it is critical that as a country, we (re)-activate structured indigenous spaces ( _ebimeeza, barazas, kacoke madit, cokere adit_) for sustained strategic dialogues on issues of concern, shared values, and possible solutions. These indigenous public platforms can enable us to share alternative opinions, support fact-finding and healing, and enable every Ugandan to play a constructive role in building trust and confidence in our democratic and development path.
Your Excellency, we look forward to your timely and positive response and action on the issues that we have brought to your attention.
*Coordinator, Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU)*
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