In a renewed bid to commit to democratic ideals and transparency in handling elections, the National Resistance Movement (NRM), of which I am the chief administrator, has come up with a ten point plan for free and fair internal elections. This move is aimed at averting fallouts, anger and antagonism arising out of questionable party primaries which motivate the aggrieved to go independent or to work with our opponents to the disadvantage of official party candidates.
The most significant measure instituted is queuing (lining up) behind candidates. This method will be employed at all electoral levels (Parliamentary, Local Councils and special structures elections); if necessary, even in choosing a Presidential flag bearer. That is how resolute we are on this new modus operandi. Lining up is fully transparent as it presents a clear winner with no excuse of foul play for the loser(s). It is also cost-effective since there is no printing of posters, acquiring ballot papers, transporting them, etc. As NRM, we are confident that this will work well for us. There will be no review of the method until the imminent election cycle is complete. All our members and aspirants should acquaint themselves with it for best results.
The second point relates to meticulous data entry to ensure a proper voter register. No matter what method of voting is applied, if the data has not been captured well, that election is a sham. The “yellow book”, which is the official NRM voter roll, has been structured and designed better, clearly capturing details such as the village, sub county, county/constituency, district and region where a voter is registered to vote. This is unlike in the past when only a name and phone number was captured. The system is backed up digitally, too. Cases of multiple voting cannot arise under the new system.
Multiple registration has also been banned! Hitherto, some members would register at different locations, some going on to contest for posts in different electoral jurisdictions. This was confusing and misleading on the numerical strength of the party.
Further to that, registration will only be carried out in gazetted places, during the day (not beyond 6:00pm or earlier than 7:00am). Materials will also be stored in gazetted and highly secure installations.
Before anyone’s registration is status is confirmed, village tribunals will screen members to prevent admitting infiltrators and those who have not taken the oath of membership and allegiance to NRM. This will keep opposition moles out!
Under the arrangement, the name of the member seeking to be registered will be read to village members in public to confirm the authenticity of identity and residence before onward submission at district level along with entries from other villages within a particular district.
Data will then be entered at zonal (regional) level before being further scrutinised and submitted to the command centre in Kampala. Previously, data would be collated in Kampala increasing the chances of carrying errors.
During the registration process, aspirants for any office or incumbents holding any electoral position are strictly prohibited from participating in the registration process which is a preserve of area electoral officials who will be assisted by coordinators from ONC. The identity and integrity of persons manning the registration process matters a lot in preparing free and fair elections.
Another step to supplement and reinforce the above-mentioned precautions and measures is ensuring that any materials to be used in registration are monitored and secured at every stage to prevent tampering, forgery, wastage or any other irregularity.
To ensure that the action plan is effectively implemented and administered for best results and compliance, we have agreed as party administrators to work together and cease any unprincipled or non-issue based bickering. Plot 10, Kyaddondo Road (Secretariat, which I head), plot 13, Kyadondo road (Party Electoral Commission) headed by Dr. Tanga Odoi and Office of the National Chairman (ONC), NRM-Kyambogo headed by my sister, Milly Babirye Babalanda, will work as one to score one common objective of keeping NRM on top. The effort will be supervised by the First Vice National Chairman, Al Hajji Moses Kigongo, who is already acting in that regard.
This demonstration of oneness at the top will stem intrigue and set an example for lower structures to emulate. The decision to unite should be celebrated by all who wish NRM well. Let’s move together as one family lest we squander our dominance. Any issues to be addressed should be addressed through the right forums; everybody should respect others in order to deserve to be respected in return.
All the above would not be possible without the overall supervision and guidance of the NRM National Chairman and President of the Republic of Uganda, Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. During the recently concluded Delegates Conference (and in some other forums before and after), he fully endorsed measures intended to bring about better handling of party primaries, in particular queuing behind candidates, which he said would stem cheating and “improve discipline in parties”.
Thus, as NRM, we are prepared to deliver the cleanest internal election ever, where the best flagbearers will emerge, supported by all including those they defeated. That way, our prospects at the general election will be brighter. We expect to win with a bigger margin at all levels than before (freely, fairly and convincingly). I call upon our great membership to support these measures and look out for the party roadmap and that of the Independent Electoral Commission and fully play their part in all processes leading up to our collective victory!
The writer is the Secretary General of the National Resistance Movement (NRM)