KABALE – There was jubilation on Friday, March 2 after the High Court in Kabale dismissed the election petition filed by former Rukungiri Woman MP Winfred Komuhangi Masiko against the winner, Ms. Betty Muzanira.
Ms. Masiko, who was the NRM candidate, had asked court to order for a fresh election, arguing that the process leading to Ms. Muzanira’s victory was marred with irregularities.
Ms. Muzanira, who contested on Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party ticket, polled 50,611 votes while Ms. Masiko got 46,379 votes.
But Justice Moses Kazibwe, while delivering the judgment on Friday, said: “Court evaluated the petition and the evidence presented lacked merit. I hereby dismiss the petition with costs.”
Ms. Masiko was represented by lawyers Justus Karuhanga and Edwin Tabaro while Mr. Jude Byamukama represented Ms. Muzanira. Mr. Patrick Wetaka represented the Electoral Commission.
Ms. Masiko on February 12 testified in court that she reported to police and electoral commission five complaints of harassment and intimidation of his supporters during campaigns and on voting day by some members of the opposition that were picked from different parts of the country. She claimed some of her voters were blocked from voting by the opposition supporters.
Other witnesses including Mr. Emmanuel Mucunguzi and Mr. Eliot Twijukye testified that the electoral process was not free and fair. Ms. Muzanira said after the court ruling that her win was God’s plan and that the election petition was malicious.
“I thank God for having prevailed over this matter and I thank the people of Rukungiri that voted me into office and kept praying for me during the court process until today when the court issued judgment in my favour. Thank you, God,” Ms. Muzanira said.
Ms. Masiko could not be reached on phone to comment on the verdict. Her lawyers said that he will study the judgment together with her and decide whether to appeal or not.
The by-election came after Ms. Muzanira who lost to Ms. Masiko in 2016 petitioned court claiming the NRM candidate bribed voters. She also wanted a recount of votes cast at some of the polling stations. However, Ms. Muzanira’s petition was dismissed by the high court in Kabale. She appealed and the Court of Appeal on March 22, 2018, nullified the election after it found Ms. Masiko guilty of giving donations during the election campaigns, and ordered the EC to organize a fresh one.