WEST NILE – Youth in West Nile have on Thursday July 5, protested the manner in which youth Members of Parliament are elected claiming the system discriminates some youth from casting their votes to other eligible candidates.
Holding placards with inscriptions ‘youth voices matter’ ‘Electoral colleges must go’ they said the whole voting system should be revised.
The group wants the Regional youth MP system and other Interest Groups abolished and instead proportional representation be introduced, where there is a district youth MP, Woman MP and PWDs from within the existing constituencies of every district.
“We are all above 18 years; we have a right to choose who our leaders should be” Saviour Rwothomio, Secretary for Finance, Nebbi District Youth Council said.
“Electoral Colleges must go, our voices must be heard,” Godfrey Oboi District youth Chairperson Adjumani.
The controversy arises from the system where a few people who are delegates vote on behalf of the majority voters.
The protestors claim that the youth make up 78 percent of the country’s population but represented by only five youth MPs representing Western, Central, Eastern, Northern and Buganda region according to the 1993 National Youth Act.
“The youth MPs have not come out to front the Youth Agenda as the youth do not feel their relevance and impact,” said Lydiah Namayengo, the Project Manager, Citizen Coalition for Electoral Democracy in
Namayengo said each youth MP covers between 30 to 40 districts which becomes challenging and overwhelming making them ineffective.
The youth also said that the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development has not only suppressed them but has not been able to prioritize their issues.
They are now demanding for a full cabinet Ministry for Youth with an independent budget line in the national budget.
“Youth must demand for inclusion and full participation in elections, policy making, planning, budgeting and decision making because it is their right granted by the Constitution of Uganda”, Namayengo added.
The youth from Adjumani, Moyo, Yumbe, Nebbi, Arua, Koboko, Maracha and Zombo districts converged at Arua Christus Centre for the ‘My Voice’ regional platform under ‘My Voice campaign’ that is aimed at amplifying youth voices to ensure more participation in elections and democracy in Uganda , a programme run by CCEDU in partnership with OXFAM.
How youth MPs are elected
In youth MP’s elections and council elections, nine people are voted at the village level. It is the nine that are chosen at the parish level who thereafter vote nine committee members at the sub county that conclusively vote for nine district youth council committee members.
Those in addition to the three sub county committee members (sub county youth chairperson, secretary for finance and secretary for female affairs) form the 336 youth making up the National Youth Delegates Conference that votes for the youth MPs and Nine National Youth Council Committee members.
But according to youth “this voting system is tedious and expensive as it requires transportation of delegates from one place to another.”
Geoffrey Bakole, District Youth Chairperson Arua said that the system discriminates the potentially good youth leaders with good ideology and manifesto from taking up leadership.
“One regional youth MP cannot address issues of youth in a whole region as it entails very many districts. For instance I have never seen my youth MP ever since campaigns. I do not know how he looks like or how tall he is”, said Janet Amoro, secretary female affairs Arua district Youth Council.