Civic Voter Education Still Lacking Ahead Of 2021 Elections, CCEDU observes.

An elderly votes in a recent elections PHOTO/GOVERNANCE FOR DEVELOPMENT


KAMPALA, Uganda|SHIFTMEDIA| On Tuesday, August 11, 2020, the Electoral Commission conducted elections for Village Older Persons’ Committees in 68,740 villages, but much as the election exercise went on peacefully across most (83%) of the villages countrywide, new reports indicate many voters were not aware that elections were taking place.

Prior to the elections, Electoral Commission issued general guidelines for the nominations of candidates for elections of village older persons’ committees; village youth committees; and village persons with disabilities committee.

But revelations unearthed by the over 10,000 observers deployed by the Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) shows that not enough civic voter education was conducted prior to the polls.

On July 27, 2020, CCEDU deployed 10,029 observers ahead of the Special Interest Group Elections. CCEDU deployed one (1) community observer in the 10,029 parishes in Uganda.

According to CCEDU, the voters’ register for Older Persons had a total of 1, 701,518 registered voters. CCEDU sampled 15% of the villages countrywide to be able to comprehensively and accurately report on the Election Day processes.

CCEDU developed an Election Observers’ tool that was shared with each observer prior to the commencement of the Special Interest Group (SIGs) elections. Charity Ahimbisbwe Kaleebo (below) the Executive Director CCEDU noted that the conduct of the process was determined based on set out legislation including the Constitution and the Political Parties and Organisations Act and the Older Persons Act.

Charity Ahimbisibwe

“In accordance with section 33 (1) and (2) of the Electoral Commission Act (Cap 140), the EC appointed and gazetted Returning Officers.  Their cardinal role is to inform voters as much as possible on current and upcoming electoral exercises,” noted CCEDU in a press statement.

Ahimbisbwe said that out of CCEDU’s 10,029 observers deployed, only 3,005 (30%) observers received information on the Village Older Persons’ elections in their cells. “The 7,024 (70%) observers did not capture information about the election before and on polling day. This partly points to a gap in voter mobilisation and education efforts around the SIGs elections and ahead of the 2021 general elections,” she said.

Contrary to previous practice, CCEDU noted that Voter Location Slips (VLS) were not issued ahead of the Village Older Persons’ elections.  All the deployed 10,029 observers did not witness an exercise of distribution of VLS in their Areas of Deployment.  Voters who had not previously checked for their voter details, therefore, may have simply kept away from the process.

In 309 (3%) of the observed villages, there were instances of Older Persons being turned away because their names and details did not appear on the Older Persons’ register. Observers’ noted that most of those who were not on the register did not participate in the update exercise for the Older Persons’ voters’ register that took place in 2019.

The observers discovered that in 7,120 (71%) villages, voters did not understand party symbols. Only 2,909 (29%) observers reported knowledge of party symbols by the voters. The symbols understood were for Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and the National Resistance Movement (NRM). “Political parties need to work very hard at the grassroots level to ensure that voters understand political party signs,” said Ahimbisiwbe.

At least 8,755 (87%) observers reported unopposed candidates in their Areas of Responsibility.  Almost all the unopposed candidates were from NRM, FDC and a few of them were independents candidates.

At 1,675 (17%) villages, observers reported that there were no candidates to be elected and the two (2) dominant political parties (NRM and FDC) were seen actively encouraging locals to offer themselves for election.


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