Ugandan Diaspora News Editorial | March 2016 | Uganda’s Election Aftermath

Posted March 4, 2016 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Editorial ~ 8,370 views


ron new

Greetings from Boston. I have just returned from my sojourn in Uganda where I covered our Presidential election, one in which a section of our people were unable to exercise their right to vote and the process left many with more questions than answers.

Having witnessed the elections first hand I have no doubt that that February 18th will be a day many will look back on as the worst instance of vote rigging Uganda has seen in recent times. With the government having failed to carry out the electoral reforms the opposition requested it was clear that the composition of the Electoral Commission would serve the interests of the appointing authority.

From vote buying disguised as voter facilitation, pre-ticking and ballot stuffing to sheer intimidation, the election was rigged in various ways, all documented. For some disenfranchisement took the form of names that disappeared from the voter register and inflated figures more voters than was actually registered. There were even instances of the outright failure of the EC to present materials in some constituencies that were heavily leaning toward the opposition. What is fast becoming the smoking gun is the declaration that the incumbent won 100% of the vote in some polling stations with no invalid or opposition votes, which some argue is statistically impossible and was reported in several hundred polling stations across the country. The international observers that included the European Union, the Commonwealth and the African Union have openly criticized the process that had many wondering if indeed the EC results tallied with those on the declaration forms presented.

Having lived many years in the US I wanted to “give back” and make my contribution to this important moment of the elections. It was therefore a great opportunity to pitch an election special and later to work with NBS Television which formed the backbone of the electoral coverage. In this regard my role was to deliver the AB viewers and to help improve the election programming for the budding station that dominated the election coverage of the 2016 elections.

Partnering with NBS was a great experience and much positive feedback was received regarding our shows from a cross-section of Ugandan viewers. I was also recognized by two passengers at the airport in Dubai who wanted to know if the shows would disappear with my departure. But I assured those I met that my co-moderator Charles Odongtho, a seasoned journalist with his in-depth analysis, would be up to the task. In this regard I also thank Kin Kariisa the CEO and the entire management of NBS Television for allowing me the opportunity to make a contribution to the motherland.

Equally noteworthy were the first presidential debates in Uganda, which were televised. President Museveni snubbed the first debate but his appearance at the second debate won him some admirers. However the second debate was not without incident as Shaka Ssali, a veteran Ugandan-born journalist based in the US who was selected by the elders forum and inter-religious council, was prevented from asking the President any questions, to the bewilderment of many. The fact that such a debate has even taken place in Uganda is an important step for our democracy and if well executed could form the basis of our future political discourse.

Following the announcement of election results by the Electoral Commission there were no celebrations but instead we witnessed a heavy military presence on the streets of Kampala and the absence of the NRM support base that had come out in droves during the NRM final rally in Kololo. What did happen was the house arrest of President Museveni’s main challenger, Dr. Kizza Besigye, purportedly for his own safety. It was this and other excesses surrounding the elections that led the President of the Uganda Law Society, Ruth Sebatindira, to speak out, who has since come under heavy criticism from some of her law fraternity.—USL-president/-/688334/3096958/-/11axhgyz/-/index.html

I can personally attest, based on my observations and those of my family members in Wakiso District, that many were denied the right to vote. And why did the State and its operatives block the people right to social media and mobile money operations nationwide at election time? Yet such a repressive move should come as no surprise when there is a government that has also seen fit to shut down radio stations and newspapers in the past. The partisan police force was also a point of concern, ready to implement the infamous Public Order Management law passed in 2013, which limits political discussion and public assembly, making it hard not to view the State and the dominant party as one and the same. Ugandans deserve a better electoral process with a level playing field and all voting materials available in a timely fashion to voters everywhere. Sadly the establishment resisted all calls to help create a non partisan commission serving all Ugandans, insisting they would deliver a free and fair election. Some now speak of selections and never elections in Africa especially were the incumbent does not allow for fair competition.

It will therefore be interesting to see if those aggrieved by unfair elections will seek redress in a justice system that is riddled with corruption and patronage. Now that the official 10 days for petitioning are over we are waiting to see how those calling for the annulment hope to proceed. In this regard the the third runner up former Premier John Patrick Amama Mbabazi has submitted a petition while FDC missed out on the deadline citing state intimidation of their agents and leader.

But with more than 75% of Uganda’s population of 39 million under the age of 30, the government must do more to create opportunity for youth that form the bulk of Uganda’s unemployed. Service delivery as opposed to the usual rhetoric of peace and stability should form the core principle of the new government if it wishes to win the hearts and minds of young people. The continued suffering of our young people in countries like Saudi Arabia are examples of what seems to have gone wrong with our education system. We also need a healthcare system that works for all and not just a few connected individuals. Opportunities should be available to all Ugandans in all sectors of the economy. Some have argued that Uganda was at the same level with countries like Singapore and South Korea after independence but what went wrong that we can be endowed with great minds and weather and still fail to reap from our intellectual capital, food or tourism. Surely we as a people deserve better from our leaders!

Talking about elections, the US will see the most bizarre election take place this November. Following Super Tuesday primaries it is increasingly likely that the Republican nominee will be Donald Trump, a polarizing figure that has divided the Republican establishment. His probable opponent, Hillary Clinton, continues to be irritated by Bernie Sanders whose policies have put Hillary on the defensive as a Washington insider. And so as we brace ourselves for a Hilary–Donald final contest we await the the impact of the outcome. But who can forget the kitchen sink Republican debate that took place in Detroit. It looks like the GOP is now a train wreck and Abe LINCOLN must be turning over in his grave…only in America!

“Every election is determined by the people who show up.” ― Larry J. Sabato, Pendulum Swing

“Dictators are not in the business of allowing elections that could remove them from their thrones.”
― Gene Sharp, From Dictatorship to Democracy

“Choose a leader who will invest in building bridges, not walls. Books, not weapons. Morality, not corruption. Intellectualism and wisdom, not ignorance. Stability, not fear and terror. Peace, not chaos. Love, not hate. Convergence, not segregation. Tolerance, not discrimination. Fairness, not hypocrisy. Substance, not superficiality. Character, not immaturity. Transparency, not secrecy. Justice, not lawlessness. Environmental improvement and preservation, not destruction. Truth, not lies.”
― Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem.

— Ronnie Mayanja
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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.


    James William Mugeni

    I am new in the diaspora but having lived in Uganda for the last 52 years I feel the only hope for Uganda is us now. We need to up our actions for Uganda and I am interested in those who believe we can do something in Uganda for Ugandans.


    Good luck William and thank you Ronnie for giving back to your country. Some of us who have lived in the Diaspora for decades have tried it but always with disappointment. I don’t think we can do much with the current regime patched in power but as the saying goes on. Never give up on your country.


    We must now take a major step to remove m7 from power by any other means since #Elections are a mere ritual to perpetuate his grip on power…We must mobilize all resources against m7 and his family of thugs, make m7 and family a political taboo in our society,work with all our brothers and sisters in the struggle;ADF/LRA to dismantle and eliminate m7 and family from our Motherland…
    Going-Forward, we declare HE Dr.Besigye our President and support him in all ways,hang his portrait in our houses and private Offices….
    An old thug-m7, in his late 70s can not defeat our generation…lets put him where he belongs….
    #One Uganda-One People


      Hmmm Paul you cannot mean that; I cant believe you cant see beyond the sentiment for KB. Yes he may represent courage to confront but not the change you or Uganda desire. What ever you seem to see wrong with yellow, you will see the same in blue if they took the seat. KB is as old as President Museveni and cannot demonstrate a different structure. Labour in UK sat hopeless and helpless until Tony Blair surfaced. They have again come to the same Situ. Until FDC evolve, forget about being defiant coz it wont achieve anything different from what it is now. Start from the grassroots and soon yu will see that what Kennedy said is still true..’Ask not what The country can do for you ..What can you do for the country? what is it today YOU are doing that is adding to the fortune of an ordinary Ugandan or the economy Let us leave sentiment out of it


    Hmm Paul, contribute lots but kindly keep ADF out of your proposals. You may disfigure the reader’s perception about you and your proposals.
    My cent!


    It is our duty as Ugandans to stand up in defiance and fight M7 regime. Besigye is not a good choice either, he may be worse than M7. For someone who vowed not to run again, then he turned around and he did, what does that tell you? People in Uganda are fed up but they are scared of harassment and potential arrest. We the Ugandan in diaspora, we need to work with our brothers and sisters back home to up root this dictator, but the big question is that how can we come together and achieve that goal??

    peter kato

    mayanja… I thought in your previous article you insinuated that mu7 would win without any problem because he had outspent his opponents, etc….blah, bhal, blah, –what happened then. Olya mulirime ne muluzise ..boyie

    Dr Kabugo Blasio

    Thanks Ronnie, it was great work, and was very happy seeing a fellow Buddonian serve his nation.
    U did your part , thx the rest we leave to God.


    Good work Ronnie. The “result” was a foregone conclusion before the ballot boxes were stuffed with pre-ticked papers. It is a military regime and they ain’t changing. Long way to go.

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