KAMPALA – Uganda wasn’t adequately prepared to stage the 2021 general elections during the Covid-19 pandemic – according to an expert, John Ssenkumba – one of the keynote speakers during Wednesday’s convention held at the Sheraton – Ballroom, Kampala under the theme; ‘Post Election Reflections.’
Ssenkumba, representing the Centre for Basic Research – CBR – said his presentations were aimed at assisting the country into the forthcoming 2026 general elections.
He said Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures took over as the guiding principles for an election – contravening the constitution of the country.
“Four overlapping factors were noticed in the election exercise – and whereas we can conclude that our voting pattern has been improving but the heavy military deployment, which resulted from the November 2020 incident, which caused the death of over 60 Ugandans – as the state claimed it was a well-organised way to overthrow government; there was anxiety for change of power that was around the corner.
“There was confusion as to which state security organ was responsible for what as per their uniforms; internet switched off are most of the activities of the opposition were declared insecurity threats,” he narrated, adding that most of all these measures were carried out under the guise of enforcing the Covid-19 guideline, which had replaced the electoral laws.
“What do you think about the impromptu cancellation of campaigns in 15 districts, which are believed to be strong holds of the opposition,” he queried, arguing that there were need for electoral reforms ahead of the 2021 general polls, which he claimed had already kicked-off.
But Morrison Rwakakamba –a socio-political analyst –disagreed; saying the situation in Uganda doesn’t warrant a description of Ssenkumba.
“It’s a fundamental right to hold elections, irrespective of the situation; however, disagreement may occur; for instance – failing to save campaigning space for candidates at the different media outlets as per the guidelines but that wouldn’t constitute at description as failure on the side of the state – though I wouldn’t want to associate with issues related to abductions, torture and detaining anyone beyond the 24-hour (period) prescribed in our constitution, ” said Rwakakamba, one of the panelists – in response to Sssenkumba’s presentation and activists –Sarah Bireete, who insinuated that Covid-19 had ended with the conclusion of the 2021 general elections.
Bireete said the Uganda Electoral Commission wasn’t independent and therefore unable to conduct a free and fair election as enshrined in the constitution because the parliament – its supervisor was too, under attack.
“Once you allow the behave like the LRA or Boko Haram – then know that the institutions of governance are working…the state has every right to arrest any person – whether on what charge but abductions….,” she retorted in a rather an angry voice, appealing to parliament to free itself from the ‘capture’ of the state.
The 2021 post-election reflections, which Alliance for Campaigning Financing and Monitoring – ACFIM organised in partnership with the Public Policy Institute – PPI drew participation several stakeholders but the police as well as the country’s electoral commission snubbed this event, where Felix Kafuuma was the lead moderator.
ACFIM’s Henry Muguzi as well as Emmanuel Kitamirike from PPI – separately gave introductory remarks about the day’s gatherings.