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How Does the NRM Solve a Problem Like Anite?

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Around the 20th of April 2020, about a month into the most stringent part of the Covid-19 lockdown, Mr Francis Zzake, the Honourable Member of Parliament from Mityana Municipality, held a food drive in his constituency.

Not long afterwards, the junior minister for Investments and Privatization in the Ministry of Finance, Evelyn Anite, followed suite and had her own food drive in Koboko Municipality. Both members of parliament handed out a few cup fulls of rice and sugar to selected members of their community.

Their justification without a doubt was that they were supporting the vulnerable in their communities with food relief to help them through the lockdown. The cynics however, read an ulterior motive in their altruism. It seemed to many that the politicians were simply eager to jump the start gun on an election season that had been delayed by the lockdown. The token amounts of food relief that they handed out would support the latter theory.

Whatever the case, the problem they had to contend with was that food distribution drives had been banned during the lockdown. The Government had instituted protocols to facilitate the national fundraising and distribution of food relief, and both Members of parliament acted in contravention of those protocols.

The ban on food drives had been instigated by the President, H.E. Yoweri Museveni. In his own words he had stated that politicians who held food drives were ‘opportunistic and irresponsible’, and ‘a danger to the health of the people’. He had further called for the arrest and charge of all politicians engaged in food drives.

In accordance with the presidential decree, Mr. Francis Zzake, an opposition politician, was arrested and by his account tortured.

Nothing at all happened to Ms. Evelyn Anite, a government minister and member of parliament for the ruling NRM.

This was not the last time that Anite would flout the government’s Covid-19 rules with no consequences. Her impunity suggests that the Covid-19 rules are meant for everyone apart a select few in the NRM.

On July 11th, 2020, both Anite and the Minister of Health, Ms. Ruth Aceng, held events in their respective constituencies that attracted several hundreds of people and violated the standard operating procedures (SOPs) put in place to protect against Covid-19.

The president himself would later mount a spirited defence for the pardon of the Health Minister. He made the case that minister Aceng was a novice in elected politics and had exercised an error in judgement borne of this inexperience. However, no such appeal to pardon was extended for Anite. Her violation yet again passed unmentioned and unpunished.

Anite flexed her impunity again on the 8th of August 2020. She organized a procession with hundreds of people in her constituency to receive an ambulance she had donated to the community. The procession violated every SOP that the Government had put in place to regulate political activity in the pandemic.

Anite would later claim that she was well on her journey to Kampala when the procession arose, but a clever piece of journalism by NBS’ Canary Mugume provided video evidence of her official ministerial car marshalling the procession from its back.

This was not the first time the junior minister had been caught in an outright lie. Yet, the minister’s loose relationship to the truth was not the most troubling part of the events that took place that weekend.

On the 9th of August, a spontaneous gathering in Koboko Municipality began to coalesce in protest to the selective application of the Covid-19 rules which seem to allow Anite and her supporters free rein in political activity without consequence, but limit other political actors in the region from doing the same.

Anite, who in September 2017, had publicly warned opposition politicians that she had the army on her side, responded by calling the RPC of West Nile, SSP Okullu Richard, to report a gathering that in effect was doing what she herself had done the previous day. The police responded with typical force, and what had started as a gathering of a few people escalated into district wide skirmishes with the authorities that allegedly resulted in the loss of a life.

The junior minister is no stranger to controversy. She has long been dogged with allegations of corruption. In August 2019 a whistle-blower alleged to the Inspector General of Government, that the Minister had acted irregularly in trying to influence the sale of Uganda Telecom Limited to Mauritius Telecom.

The allegations stated that the minister had flown to Mauritius as part of a secret effort to ‘seal the deal’. In yet another example of the Minister’s attitude to the truth, she initially denied ever visiting Mauritius. However, when evidence was tabled that the Minister had indeed travelled to Mauritius using what appeared to be a surreptitious route, she recanted her position. She made the suspiciously spurious claim that she had visited Mauritius as part of a course she was undertaking in the United States. As has become a pattern, no official action was taken against the minister.

Whether or not there is credence to the allegations that the minister is corrupt, she has certainly assumed the tell-tale characteristics of a corrupt official in this campaign period. Take for example, that the minister conducted her personal campaign event on August 8th in her official Government car, which means that at the very least the cost of the fuel, the wear and tear on the vehicle, and the driver and his allowances were borne by the tax payer.

Secondly, the minister seems to draw from a bottomless resource bag in her effort to win back her seat. Anite bought an ambulance that costs anywhere between UGX 200 – 350 million, and two double cabin pick-ups valued at UGX 180 million each to support her campaign. All the vehicles are ostentatiously branded with her face. In addition to the fleet, she has doled out cash and food, both of which fudge the Electoral Commission regulations on campaigning.

Even if it is the case that Anite has come by these resources honestly, it does raise the question of how Anite hopes to recoup this outlay if she is re-elected. In her defence, some members of her team have stated that the fleet was paid in full or partly by friendly persons in the business community. Yet, this in no less problematic. It is troubling that the minister in charge of overseeing investment concessions and handling the privatization of government assets is openly receiving support for her private campaign from investors. If these ‘gifts’ are not outrightly illegal, they are at the very least very irregular.

It is worth dwelling a bit on the ambulance. In Uganda, the ambulance has become an election season trope. Every 5 years the car bonds are stocked with ambulances to supply a glut of demand from members of parliament who have underperformed or have nothing to show for their 5 years in

office. The intention seems to be that the ambulance as a gift to the constituency, is supposed to make-up for the lacklustre showing. If this is the case, Anite’s has a lot of making-up to do.

The most recent parliament score card which assess Members of Parliament on their attendance of plenary and committee sessions, and their performance in their constituencies ranked Anite among the worst performing members of parliament with a score of 26%. The official line from her team has been that Anite’s official ministerial duties handicapped her performance in parliament. However it is worth noting that some of the best performing members of parliament were ministers, with the overall best performer being a fellow minister of state in her own Ministry of Finance.

The government has gone to extreme lengths to defend the restricted environment under which the forth coming elections are to be conducted. It has become imperative that the government demonstrates that the new restrictions are in the interest of the people and not an opportunistic ploy to favour incumbency in the forth-coming elections. To this effect the president and the rest of the party leadership have appealed to their members to go above and beyond in being exemplars of SOP conformity.

In addition, there is a general election to be won against an opposition that is intent on campaigning on the grounds that the ruling party has fostered gross social inequality. The effect the Covid-19 lockdown has had on the base of the population has lent credence to the opposition message. The lay person has borne the brunt of the economic turndown ushered in by the lockdown. The ruling party has moved to counter this message by positioning itself as the party of the people. The planned 2021 party manifesto aims to hammer home this message by focusing on making capital accessible to the base.

Anite who is quick to claim that she is the preferred candidate of the president, presents a problem for the ruling party. In conducting her campaign as an entitled, dubiously wealthy, party insider with the security service at her beck and call, she is in effect flying against the image the party wants to portray and validating the opposition’s claims against the government.

The situation is quickly coming to a head. The ruling party can no longer afford to keep turning a blind eye to Anite’s flaunting of rules and the whispers of irregularity that seem to follow in her wake without appearing complicit. At some point the party has to act in its own self interest and bring the maverick minister to order.

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Dixon Kagurusi promises to uplift Kinkizi West back on the national scene

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Mr. Dickson Kagurusi

 

Ampumuza Dixon Kagurusi an independent contestant for Kinkizi West parliamentary seat has promised to uplift the constituency back to the limelight as it was with the former Prime Amama Mbabazi.

Kagurusi was nominated on October 17 at Kanungu district headquarters on an independent ticket after having participated and lost the NRM primaries in 2015.

Kanungu District Electoral Commission (EC) Registrar Ferdinand Mulekezi on Nomination days said that Dixon Ampumuza Kagurusi an independent candidate and Spencer Kansiime Zamaani who was nominated on the National Unity Platform (NUP) were nominated before the closure of the exercise at 5pm.

The Registrar Ferdinand Mulekezi also said that by the close of the nomination exercise, six contestants had been nominated for the Kinkizi West Parliamentary Seat which is the highest number of contestants in one constituency currently.

Dixon Kagurusi who was escorted by Kanungu District Youth leaders vowed to represent the voiceless and empower communities out of poverty and not to serve any mafia system as the current MP does. He also said that once elected, his focus will be to eradicate poverty in their homes so that they can be able to afford education for their children which is a springboard to growth and development of any community.

Dixon Kagurusi also said that his entry into politics is driven by service beyond self and this can be achieved when local leaders are committed to establish the needs assessment for their voters and make a follow up, giving their constituencies what they need to survive over time, call it sustainable growth.

Ampumuza Kagurusi said that he was joining the Parliamentary seat race to win and give the people of Kinkizi West what they really deserve.

Kagurusi also revealed that his symbol will be a watch to symbolize that the time for change is now.

Kagurusi boosts of connections at both national and international level having worked in the media industry for close to 15 years. He is also reported to be well connected within the Kampala establishment, something that gives mileage ahead of his opponents.

 

 

 

 


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MPs to be elected on January 14 as EC issues guidelines

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EC-Voting

The Electoral Commission has announced January 14th, 2021 as the date Ugandans will elect their Members of Parliament (MPs).

The electoral body gazetted November 9th 2020, to January 12th 2021, as the campaign period for all nominated MP candidates following conclusion of the nomination exercise.

Addressing the media on Thursday, EC chairperson Simon Byabakama said all campaigns should follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to guard against the spread of Covid-19.

Byabakama said that campaigns shall be conducted between 7am to 6pm and venue owners must ensure that the campaign/meeting venues are provided with hand washing facilities and sanitizers, and that supporters attending the campaigns/meetings wear face masks at all time, while accessing and exiting the meeting venue.

Candidates may also use the community-based Public Address Systems (kizindaalo) between 7am to 9am and 4pm to 6pm.

Candidates have been advised to identify suitable venues within their constituencies and notify the respective Returning Officers, who will conduct an inspection together with the Police and the District COVID-19 Taskforce to ensure the venue will enable observance of the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health.

They will, however, be allowed to organise/hold campaign meetings, in a regulated manner, preferably outdoors, with limited attendance of a maximum of seventy (70) persons, to enable the observance of the 2-meters social distancing rule for the persons attending the meeting.

Candidates who use posters are warned against putting them on road traffic signs. Similarly,those who use banners are strongly warned against hanging them on electricity power lines, or in a manner that endangers vehicular traffic and pedestrian movement. Any campaign materials that are wrongly placed will be removed by the relevant Council authorities and Police.

Candidates and their agents have been advised to use non-contact means of communication to interact with the electorate. These include fliers, leaflets, brochures, posters, billboards and banners; radio and television announcements and talk shows; short messaging services (SMS), voice messaging, and new digital media platforms and websites.

In a similar development, EC appointed Monday 2nd and Tuesday 3rd November 2020 as the dates for nomination of candidates for Presidential Elections, 2021.

The nomination exercise will be conducted at Kyambogo University Sports Grounds, starting at 9am and ending at 5pm on each of the appointed dates.


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FULL DETAILS: Electoral Commission Announces Key Campaign, Election Dates

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The Electoral Commission Chairperson Justice Byabakama Mugenyi Simon has this morning announced the election and Campaign dates for Members of Parliament and LCs in a press briefing.

According to a speech by the EC chairperson that this website has laid eyes on, MPs shall campaign from 9th November to 12th January 2021 while City/District Local Government Councils (Lord Mayor/Mayors/Chairpersons &Councilors) will campaign from 9th November to 18th January 2021.

According to the same speech, elections for MPs are slated for 14th January, 2021 while elections for Elections of District Local Government Councils: (District/City Chairpersons, Lord Mayor, Mayors, and Councillors) will be on 20th January 2021.

Here is Justice Byabakama Mugenyi Simon’s full speech.

Dear esteemed partners, members of the press, it is our privilege and pleasure to welcome you to this press briefing, at the Commission Headquarters.

Today, the Commission will update you on the progress of the implementation of the Roadmap for General Elections, 2020/2021 as follows:

  1. Status of Elections of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) Committees

The Electoral Commission concluded the conduct of elections of SIGs (Older Persons, Persons with Disabilities and Youth) Committees from the Village to the District/Citylevel.

The Commission appreciates all stakeholders in the electoral process for their participation which enabled successful organisation and conduct of the SIGs Committees Elections. 

  • Conclusion of Nominations of Candidates for Parliamentary and Local Government Councils Elections and Commencement of Campaign Period

The Electoral Commission conducted the nomination of candidates for Local Government Councils and Parliamentary Elections, from 21st September to 5th October and on 15th and 16th October 2021, respectively.

The nomination exercise attracted a high number of aspirants who include party-sponsored candidates and independents. The Commission is compiling the details of all nominated candidates and will publish the results in due course.

Following the conclusion of the above nomination exercises, the Commission has appointed the periods indicated in the table below, for the purpose of conducting candidates’ campaign meetings for Parliamentary and Local Government Councils Elections, 2021.

No. Category of Election Campaign Period
1. Parliamentary Elections (Directly-elected MP &District Woman Representative to Parliament) 9th November 2020 12th January 2021
2. City/District Local Government Councils (Lord Mayor/Mayors/Chairpersons &Councilors) 9th November 2020 18th January 2021
3. Municipality/City Division Chairpersons and Councilors 9th November 2020 23rd January 2021
4. Sub County/Town/Municipal Division Chairpersons and Councilors 9th November 2020 1st February 2021

The Electoral Commission urges all nominated candidates, their agents, supporters and the general public to carefully observe the following guidelines for this campaign period:

  1. Campaigns shall be conducted between 7.00 am and 6.00 pm; and in accordance with the harmonized candidates’ campaign programme;
  • Candidates and their agents shall not use or publish any language or defamatory words, which incite public disorder, hatred, violence or which threatens war;
  • In accordance with the measures and guidelines put in place by the Ministry of Health to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the Electoral Commission to prevent and combat person-to-person, person-to-object and object-to-person spread of the COVID-19 during the conduct of election activities, processions and public/mass rallies remain banned; 
  • Candidates will, however, be allowed to organise/hold campaign meetings, in a regulated manner, preferably outdoors, with limited attendance of a maximum of seventy (70) persons, to enable the observance of the 2-meters social distancing rule for the persons attending the meeting.

The candidates and venue owners must ensure that the campaign/meeting venues are provided with hand washing facilities and sanitizers, and that the supporters attending the campaigns/meetings wear face masks at all time, while accessing and exiting the meeting venue;

  • Candidates are advised to identify suitable venues within their constituencies and notify the respective Returning Officers, who will conduct an inspection together with the Police and the District COVID-19 Taskforce to ensure the venue will enable observance of the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health;
  • Candidates and their agents are advised to use non-contact means of communication to interact with the electorate. These include fliers, leaflets, brochures, posters, billboards and banners; radio and television announcements and talk shows; short messaging services (SMS), voice messaging, and new digital media platforms and websites;
  • Candidates who use posters are warned against putting them (campaign posters) on road traffic signs. Similarly, candidates who use banners are strongly warned against hanging them (campaign banners) on electricity power lines, or in a manner that endangers vehicular traffic and pedestrian movement.

Any campaign materials that are wrongly placed will be removed by the relevant Council authorities and Police.

  • Candidates may also use the community-based Public Address Systems (kizindaalo) between 7:00am-9:00am and 4:00pm-6:00pm, as per the campaign programme harmonised with the respective Returning Officers;
  • Appointment of Polling Dates for Parliamentary and Local Government Councils Elections, 2021

Following the conclusion of nomination of candidates, and the harmonization of campaign programmes by the Electoral Commission together with the candidates, the Electoral Commission has, in line with Section 18(1)(a) of the Parliamentary Elections Act and Section 107 of the Local Government Act, appointed polling dates for the various elective positions as follows:

No. Elective Position Polling Date
1. Election of Councillors for Older Persons to the Sub County/Town/Municipal Division 11th January 2021
2. Elections of Councillors for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) to the Sub County/Town/Municipal Division 11th January 2021
3. Elections of Youth Representatives to the Sub County/Town/Municipal Division 11th January 2021
4. Election of Councillors for Older Persons to the Municipality/City Division 12th January 2021
5. Elections of Councillors for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) to the Municipality/City Division 12th January 2021
6. Elections of Councillors for Youth to the Municipality/City Division 12th January 2021
7. Elections of Member of Parliament (Directly-elected MP and District Woman Representative to Parliament) 14th January 2021
8. National Conference for Election of Older Persons Representatives to Parliament 17th –18th January 2021
9. National Conference for Election of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) Representatives to Parliament 17th –18th January 2021
10. National Conference for Election of Workers Representatives to Parliament 17th –18th January 2021
11. Elections of District Local Government Councils: (District/City Chairpersons, Lord Mayor, Mayors, and Councillors) 20th January 2021
12. National Conference for Election of National Female Youths Representative to Parliament 21st –22nd January 2021
13. Elections of Municipality/City Division Chairpersons and Councillors 25th January 2021
14. Elections of Councillors for Older Persons to the District Local Government Councils 27th January 2021
15. Elections of Councillors for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) to the District Local Government Councils 27th January 2021
16. Elections of Councillors for Youths to the District Local Government Councils 27th January 2021
17. Elections of Workers Representatives to District Local Government Councils 27th January 2021
18. Elections of UPDF Representatives to Parliament 29th January 2021
19. Regional Conferences for Election of Regional Youths Representatives to Parliament 31st January– 1st February 2021
20. Elections of Sub County/Town/Municipal Division Chairpersons and Councillors February 3rd 2021
  • Preparations for Nomination of Candidates for Presidential Elections

As earlier informed, the Electoral Commission appointed Monday 2nd and Tuesday 3rd November 2020 as the dates for nomination of candidates for Presidential Elections, 2021.

The nomination exercise will be conducted at Kyambogo University Sports Grounds, starting at 9:00am and ending at 5pm on each of the appointed dates.

The Commission will limit access to the nomination venue, in compliance with Government/Ministry of Health Guidelines and EC Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for preventing the spread of COVID-19.

The aspiring candidate, shall be allowed into the nomination venue accompanied by not more than ten (10) persons (including the candidate).

The particulars of persons accompanying the aspirant shall be submitted to the Commission in advance.

Aspiring candidates have been advised to use only three (3) vehicles for purposes of his/her nominations; and each vehicle should not carry more than four (4) persons, driver inclusive. Each of the vehicles shall bear a police sticker.

For the avoidance of doubt, the incumbent President who is also a candidate shall use such facilities as are ordinarily attached to his office. This is in line with Section 27(2) of the Presidential Elections Act.

Meanwhile, as you are already aware, the Commission made available nomination forms and supporter forms to aspiring candidates two months ago. At least eighty-seven (87) aspirants have collected forms expressing interest to contest.

Section 10(b) of the Presidential Elections Act provides that a Presidential candidate’s nomination shall be supported by not less than one hundred (100) persons who are registered voters, from not less than ninety-eight (98) districts, which form two thirds (2/3) of all the districts of Uganda.

Accordingly, the Commission set up a team to handle the verification of supporters for nomination of candidates for the 2021 Presidential Elections.

As at 22nd October 2020, the following aspirants have submitted their supporter forms for verification as:

No Name Party/Independent Status
1 Yoweri Kaguta Museveni National Resistance Movement (NRM) Verified &cleared
2 Bbaale Charles Ecological Party of Uganda (EPU) Under verification
3 Tumukunde Henry Kakurugu Independent Under verification
4 Mwesigye Fred Independent Under verification
5 Mayambala Willy Independent Under verification
6 Lugudde-Katwe Elizabeth Independent Under verification
7 Mutono Mbulambago Robert Independent Under verification
8 Ebetu Simon Independent Under verification
9 Mabirizi Joseph Independent Under verification
10 Kabuleta Kiiza Joseph Independent Under verification
11 Yamureebire Jotham Independent Under verification
12 Makmot Moses Independent Under verification
13 Okoth Geoffrey Independent Under verification
14 Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert National Unity Platform (NUP) Under verification
15 Katumba John Independent Under verification
16 Kalembe Nancy Linda Independent Under verification
17 Katushemererwe Brenda Independent Under verification
18 Amuriat Oboi Patrick Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Under verification
19 Mugisha Muntu Gregg Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) Under verification

Presidential aspirants who have attained the verified supporters from the required ninety-eight (98) districts/cities will be issued with a Certificate of Compliance which they will present to the Returning Officer on nomination day.

Meanwhile, aspiring candidates have also been advised to book time in advance on any of the gazetted dates, that is, Monday 2nd and Tuesday 3rd November 2020, in order to ensure a smooth nomination exercise.

In accordance with Section 21(1) of the Presidential Elections Act, the Commission will appoint and gazette campaign period and polling date after the nomination exercise.

Conclusion

The Electoral Commission wishes to extend its appreciation to all political parties and organisation, and all stakeholders who participated in the concluded nomination exercises.

The Commission further appeals to all stakeholders in the electoral process to carefully study the guidelines for the campaign period and to conduct themselves in accordance with the measures issued by the Commission to safeguard all those participating in the electoral process from the risk of contracting and spreading the COVID-19 virus.

I thank you,

For God and My Country

Justice Byabakama Mugenyi Simon

Chairperson, Electoral Commission

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