Dispatch from Kampala | The Election Fever – Uganda Decides

Posted January 18, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Events ~ 3,540 views


By Ronnie Mayanja | UNAA Times Online | It has been about two weeks since I arrived back in Kampala and I must say this time I was greeted by alot of changes.

The last time I was in Kampala was towards the end of February of last year and by then things were a lot calmer but this time round Kampala seems to be full of activity. The streets have now been littered with campaign posters of all the candidates vying for political office. Giant billboards and moving cars adorning the candidates campaign materials is what greets you on every turn once you get to the city center.

From Presidential, Parliamentary, Mayoral candidates to local council members. The city has become one giant billboard in turn creating possible challenges for the electorate who might find trouble choosing the right candidates given the sheer number of contestants campaigning for the various posts.

Also evident is the manner in which the incumbent has out spent his opponents. A quick scan of the city campaign posters will show you that the opposition posters and billboards stand at a ratio of about 3 to 1. Coupled with this is the fact that NRM has also been able to engage social media, created call centers with a fully functioning campaign website. The other Presidential campaigns with websites are Mao’s DP and Besigye’s IPC. With less than 30 days to go to the D-Day, this has left pundits to speculate whether the opposition candidates are reserving their arsenal for a ‘photo finish’, on February 18th 2011.

Another aspect that you will not miss while moving in and around Kampala is the number of armed police personnel that have now been deployed at various points within the city. These are adorning different uniforms perhaps an indication that they all belong to various units within the police force. Of course given the outcome of elections in both Kenya and Ivory Coast security of persons and property should be a fundamental human right that the government will need to defend and guarantee at all costs.

As an independent observer I would perhaps commend the security efforts in ensuring that so far the campaigns have gone on without any major incident which is a good thing given our young democracy. However there is a need to create a level playing field as it has increasingly been noted that the opposition parties have been denied airtime on some pro government media outlets.

The other notable achievement has been the creation of organisations like The Cititzens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) that is running great awareness nationwide campaigns to encourage voters to ‘honor their vote’ by voting issues and not ‘wolokoso’ a term coined by Kampala inhabitants to mean ‘cheap talk’ or gossip.

Also looming as an issue has been the dicey Cultural leaders bill that has angered some sections of the Ugandan population especially the Mengo establishment by further putting it on a collision course with government. During the past week I listened intently to NTV ‘On the Spot’ program as Buganda’s attorney general Apollo Makubuya and Presidential advisor on politics David Mafabi faced off for a full hour as each made their case before the court of public opinion. [ ]

One thing that perhaps will need redress and very soon is how the electoral commission will plan to prevent multiple voting since no voters cards were issued and yet past elections have been marred with rigging at upcountry polling stations partly because there was a lack proper identification system that puts a check on this kind of practice.

My hope is that during this election we shall learn to put our leaders to task especially the perennial politicians who now treat some of these positions as a job and not a call to serve. This should be an election were real issues like improved service delivery in all sectors, Job creation and more transparent government are brought to the forefront. Our leaders will need to address the issue of graft with a heavy hand instead of rewarding those politicians found culpable. Corruption is now an institutionalized affair that has now become a way of life for many Ugandans.

It should therefore be noted that these will perhaps go down as the most heavily financed campaigns based on the level of campaign materials on the streets today. But depending on who emerges on top the people of Uganda deserve better from their politicians and legislators this time round.

For God and My Country.

Ronnie Mayanja

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.


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