KAMPALA – The chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Justice Simon Byabakama, has said commercialization of politics is undermining Uganda’s democratic process.
Justice Byabakama said excessive use of money is producing incapable leaders while at the same time raising the cost of organizing elections in the country.
“The use of money in election to entice or encourage voters distorts the democratic purposes; using money to buy votes makes it difficult to get a credible leader,” he said on Monday in Mbarara Town during a regional stakeholders’ meeting ahead of the 2021 elections.
“An election is cancelled because you bribed voters with Shs10,000 or Shs20,000 and repeating the election is very costly to government, and even candidates. An election where you bribed voters with Shs10,000 can cost government over Shs700 million,” Justice Byabakama added.
He also urged leaders from across the political divide to participate in voter education to ensure free and fair elections. He said it’s improper to rush to foreign countries for help in national elections.
“The elections here are for Ugandans, you don’t trust your home to a neighbour but some of our politicians here instead of joining us to organize credible elections, rush to foreign countries, press; CNN. We can’t run our country on foreign missions,” Justice Byabakama said.
He added that Electoral Commission, government and everyone have to work for violence free elections.
Justice Byabakama said some doomsayers have already predicted that 2021 elections will be violent but he challenged Ugandans to prove the pessimists wrong.
He said violence in any country is very costly and that any right-thinking Ugandan should not support it.
However, opposition leaders in the meeting said violence is always perpetuated by the ruling NRM party through the security agencies.
“The NRM government is the perpetrator of violence through the security agencies, police, army and RDCs (Resident District Commissioners). Unless they are restrained from working for the ruling party and they become a people’s institutions, it will be always difficult to have violence-free elections,” said Mr Stanley Katembeya, chairperson Forum for Democratic Change Mbarara district.