The Electoral Commission yesterday unveiled the journey of preparations to the 2016 general polls.
And to achieve this, a five pillar plan, each (pillar) with at least three strategic objectives.
As the EC unveiled the pillars and strategic plan 2012-2017, Minister Gen Kahinda Otafiire said he is to start sacking all EC officials implicated in malpractices.
“Any Electoral officers involved in malpractices are going to be sacked, even if the malpractice is in my personal favor or in the interest of the NRM party which am a member,” he said. “Mr Chairman [Badru Kiggundu] ensure all elections are free and fair and if you don’t listen to what am saying, I will come for you too.”
Gen Otafiire’s first wrath was pointed to the election observers especially from the foreign states, notwitstanding the fact that those observer missions do sponsor some of the EC activities, and had actually financed the strategic plan formulation.
“I hate the idea of election observers. Who has ever observed elections in US, in UK? We are not children to be guided on what to do. Yes they can come but not direct us what too because it’s our role since it’s our election,” he said
Learning from what transpired in the 2011 February general polls, EC Chairman Dr Badru Kiggundu announced to the elections stakeholders, political party organizations and the general public that the five pillars have been developed to have a better poll than previously.
The pillars are; strengthening the commission, conducting better free and fair polls, having a credible, accurate and accessible national voter register, having an effective and comprehensive voter education and finally having an all-inclusive and service oriented EC.
Most of the political leaders in attendance decried the lack of proposed electoral reforms in the draft strategy. The five page document doesn’t include any new idea for the coming elections but the same old organization of voters registers, voting stations, registering and training electoral officials, but with deadlines to those activities.
FDC’s vice president Salaamu Musumba said the plan isn’t strategic at all but a mere show of accountability that comes towards the end of a financial year.
“It is poorly done and it’s a mere framework. I expected to see measures towards achieving a computerized mode of voting so that elements of multiple voting and ghost voters are done away with.”
Other political participants queried the plan’s lack of strategies to eliminate military participation in the polls, cases of bribery and political influencing the commission.
Dr Kiggundu said currently he is preparing to conduct other two by-elections with others on a bigger scale of conducting elections at Local Government levels in 89 districts.
Most of the elections therein occurred due to lack of nominated candidates during the 2011 polls, nullification of the election results by courts, resignations and deaths.
The commission therefore proposes to have a strategy ensuring that such doesn’t happen again. This has been put to December 2012.
Members from political parties however suggested to the EC that government be given until 24months to the polling date to avoid creating such administrative units. “We hope government shall appreciate the difficulties we have with such arrangements when they create new constituencies, because the longer the period the better for us,” said EC Commissioner Jenny Akello.
Using national IDs
Another way of achieving the strategic plan is to have each voter armed with his voters’ card contrary to what has previously been in place with only the register used.
The strategic plan also indicates that the Ugandan voters will have to prepare in advance when a fully and credible register will be in place for their benefit.
Under the new financial years 2012/2013 Minister Maria Kiwanuka announced that since the national Id project had failed, each Ugandan would contribute to having an Identity card of his own in what she called was ‘cost sharing.’
Commissioner Tom Buruku said the EC would go to all offices in the country to ensure that the commission is facilitated to have its own registration methods rather than bank on the already defunct national ID project under the Ministry of internal affairs.
“We are telling the government that if they want an election in 2016, we need money to register our own people. ” Mr Buruku said.
By Sheila Naturinda, Daily Monitor