By Our Reporter
MUKONO, Uganda|SHIFTMEDIA| The time is now to remove the ‘sharks’ from power and re-align the country to its original path, Dr Miria Matembe has advised.
Dr Miria Matembe, the Board Chairperson Citizen Coalition for Electoral Democracy and an aspiring candidate for the elderly seat in Parliament also urged the youth in Uganda to take an active role and engage in Ugandan politics if they desire change.
“I urge young people to take an active role in the campaign for change. you can still advocate for change without necessarily getting involved in violence or riots,” she said.
Matembe was addressing youth in Mukono during the CCEDU, Nice Uganda organised “Mulembe Gwa Digito zoom debate held at the Mukono Resort Hotel on Monday. The meeting was supported by UN Women.
Matembe who talked tough decried the high level of voter bribery enshrined in Uganda. “I highly condemn the act of voter bribery, you cant be a leader in Uganda unless you bribe voters.” “I want to assure you that elections in Uganda are about money,” said Matembe, a former Member of Parliament and Minister for Ethics and Integrity.
Matembe who is campaigning for the post of the elderly seat in Parliament described the hurdle she is undergoing in the campaign field trying to convince voters to vote her without necessarily paying (bribing) them.
“Please eat that money, that is tax payers money. It is your time to eat the money, but vote wisely,” he told the youth.
she also called upon the youth to engage in door to door campaign to sensitize the masses on the need to pick the Voter Location Slips to enable them to exercise their right to vote.
“Since many new constituencies were created, it may be hard for voters to locate their polling stations, and that is were the Voter Location Slips will be important,” she said. Matembe however decried the sluggishness of the Electoral Commission staff whom she said were not available to distribute the VLS in the various polling stations in the urban areas.
Charity Ahimbisibwe, the Executive Director CCEDU said that with just about 10 days left for elections, the issuance of the VLS would have been done much earlier.
“Ten days, to the Election, CCEDU with support from UN Women has mobilized the over 40 Youths from Mukono University via zoom and 45 youth offline to engage them on the Election day procedures. CCEDU developed a voter mobilization campaign dubbed Mulembe Gwa Digital, Beera Mu Class to engage the youth through ways that appeal to them,” said Ahimbisibwe.
She said the campaign is largely through technology, language and images (visual/audio). “The campaign utilizes peer-to-peer communication across multi–media platforms to speak emotively and influence young people to positively to appreciate, participate and engage in the 2021 elections,” she said.
Ahimbisibwe said some of these peers are Josephine Karungi and Samson Kasumba. CCEDU is also utilizing popular characters on the entertainment scene and social circuit plus online influencers and trendsetters to speak to the youth about their right to vote. The campaign is meant to hook the youth and women to the elections and encourage them to turn up to vote in big numbers on January 14, 2020.
Youth and Women in Uganda have been marginalized, stereotyped and relegated to spectator positions in political activities. They have been stigmatized as ‘bandits and wrong doers’ during elections and political peak seasons and while this applies to male youth, the female youth have not been spared by sexist tendencies and being ‘closed out’ from key spaces for participation through fear, monetization and demobilization based on some gender dimensions like ones marital status among others.
The 2021 Electoral processes have seriously undermined the participation of young people who have largely been labelled as destructive.
CCEDU views the youths as very impressionable, especially the category between 18 – 24 years. The 30% resides in urban areas (cities, municipalities, towns, trading centers) they are trendy, information-driven and are also viewed as influencers by their peers in the semi-urban and rural areas and this is the reason the campaign is reaching them specifically.
Nice Uganda speaks out on VLS
Crispin Kaheru from Nice Uganda said the issuance of Voter Location Slips was done at very short notice. He also expressed worry regarding the way the VLS are being distributed. “I have heard reports that the VLS are being distributed by a particular political party, and this may be to the advantage of that party. I appeal to the Electoral Commission to be at the forefront of distributing these slips,” said Kaheru.
He, however, dismissed fears that those without the slips won’t be allowed to vote. “Those spreading lies that if you don’t get the slips you won’t vote, is outrageous. The Voter Slips is to help you locate where your polling station is. You can still vote minus it so long as you are in the voter register,” said Kaheru.