The Observer | It would be illegal to use national IDs to identify 2016 voters — By Prof. George Kanyeihamba

Posted January 24, 2016 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in The Roadmap to 2016 ~ 4,528 views




Article 59 of the Constitution provides that every Ugandan citizen of eighteen years or above has a right to vote and register as a voter for public elections and referenda.

Section 19 (1) of the Electoral Commission Act, Cap 140, stipulates that any person who is a citizen of Uganda and is eighteen years of age or above shall apply to be registered as a voter in a parish or ward where she/he originates from or resides.

Section 19(2) of the Electoral Commission Act, Cap 140, states that no person shall be qualified to vote at an election if that person is not registered as a voter in accordance with the Constitution.

It is obligatory upon the state to take all necessary steps to ensure that all citizens qualified to vote register and exercise their right to vote. It is not provided anywhere in the laws of Uganda that a person should first have a national identity card to be eligible to vote in elections or referenda.

Consequently, the statement attributed to the Electoral Commission that IDs may be used for any purpose whatsoever in the 2016 general elections is not only grossly erroneous but, if relied upon to act or identify voters in the forthcoming elections, will be treasonable.

An online statement from the Daily Monitor attributed to EC spokesperson, Jotham Taremwa, reads: “National IDs are not enough to vote in 2016”.

I would emphatically add that they are neither necessary nor desirable. More alarmingly, however, they can be used to rig elections. I entirely agree with Mr Taremwa that the majority of voters do not have national IDs, especially those haphazardly printed under the recent exercise.

A good number of voters did not turn out to register for IDs under the exercise presided over by my good friend, Col Stephen Kwiringira. Many of those who were processed for the IDs have not yet received them nor has the exercise been fully completed. It would, therefore, be sheer folly for any serious candidate, whether presidential, parliamentary or local government to participate in the 2016 elections when IDs are used.

I recently facilitated relatives, friends and former political supporters from my constituency of Rubanda East to attend His Holiness Pope Francis’ recent celebrations in Kampala. They revealed very disturbing phenomena. The majority of them, their relatives and friends do not have national IDs.

Those who registered were told to go to Kabale district headquarters and collect their IDs. They were lamenting that they had never gone there because they had no transport money. They further revealed that most voters in the constituency were in the same position.

Incidentally, in the recent NRM primary elections for flag bearers, most of them, even though recorded by the NRM Electoral Commission as having voted, never actually turned out at the voting venues.

My guests said that some candidates facilitated them at home and collected their NRM voting cards. It is, therefore, the candidates or their agents who physically cast their ballots in the boxes at the scheduled voting venues.

The above testimonies strongly support the assertions by presidential candidate Yoweri Museveni, losers in those elections, and independent reports that the NRM primary elections for its various flag bearers were wrecked by corruption, vote buying, rigging and intimidation.

If all this can occur in the ruling party by and against its own members, one wonders what will happen when these brothers and sisters of the same kraal confront what they regard as their enemies in the 2016 elections.

Presidential candidates Kizza Besigye and Amama Mbabazi have been attracting huge enthusiastic crowds at their public rallies. They should be strongly advised that not all those who come are registered voters or possess national IDs.

It is, therefore, in the interest of all presidential candidates that at their diverse rallies, those attending should be asked to confirm whether they have voters’ cards or national IDs.

I predict that the results will shock the candidates. Incidentally, the Uganda parliament has recently and rightly rejected the suggestion that national IDs be used in the 2016 elections.

The author is a retired judge.

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.



    Though national IDs are used for voting that will never deter the vote riggers from stealing the elections.


    Oh dear doesn’t sound good this late in the day for so many potential voters. Mukama tugwetaga seriously please, Uganda kale tukoye obwavu no kubba obululu ela nokutuguumazza! No president has anymore to ofter after 30 years, it’s time to let someone else have a go !!! Children get sharing and doing the right thing, why don’t some old / very grown up leaders get the same. Craziness.

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