By Nyanjura Doreen
For a political ballot to be valid, three absolute conditions must exist. First the vote should be free, second the voter should have information to enable them make informed choices, and third, the figure should be accurate.
Electoral reforms would therefore be aimed at creating the above conditions so that the outcome of elections reflect the will of the people by removing institutional bottlenecks to organizing free and fair elections.
What is the problem with Uganda’s elections?
The opposition knows that NRM does not believe in the right of Ugandans to choose their leaders and decide the nation’s policy direction at the polls. We have heard Mr. Museveni on many occasions say that Uganda is his garden so nobody can chase him. He also says, that he hunted his animal and now that he is enjoying his meat people are telling him to go away and as a result often reminds Ugandans that he is a quarter pin who came to power by force and a mere piece of paper cannot remove him. These cannot be statements of someone willing to submit to the will of the people at elections. Need I remind you that, after the 1996 elections Museveni said that if Ssemogerere had won, he would have gone back to the bush!
Therefore even when the electoral law is perfect, the will to respect the will of the people is simply lacking; reason why government is dragging its feet on tabling the electoral reform bill.
So why does NRM organize elections?
Elections help government to get an impression of legitimacy. A significant number of such leaders love posturing as being legitimate and popular among citizens.
‘’Elections’’ help them feed their vain imagination that they are leaders by the grace of God and by the general will of the people, that is why they pay people to attend their rallies.
Second, such processes act as a pressure valve where dissatisfied citizens let off steam after every five years with their ‘’at least I did not vote for him, he will rule me without my consent.’’ He indeed goes on to rule without the consent of the people.
Let us assume the electoral reforms will be tabled ‘on time’. What will they change?
1. Police will still prevent the opposition from gathering to explain their programs.
2. The opposition will still be prevented from accessing radio stations especially in rural areas. Those stations that host them will be switched off and media houses will be asked to expel journalists deemed to be giving favorable coverage to the opposition.
The above two will negate the second absolute requirement that voters should have access to information to make informed choices.
3. Violence will be meted out against the opposition and the regime will bribe poor voters to influence their voting thus negating the first principle that the vote must be free.
4. The counting and tallying of votes will be done by the regime’s henchmen who will fix the outcome in favor of the regime. Opposition offices will still be raided to confiscate the declaration of Declaration forms to prevent the truth from coming out. Thus negating the third principle.
When disaffected candidates challenge the outcome in courts, the Supreme Court judges will say, ‘’although there was rigging, although there was none compliance with the law, the rigging and breaking of the law was not substantial to overturn the election.’’
The only thing the electoral reforms may help us is, if they set a quantitative threshold of what constituents substantial rigging, otherwise all this noise about electoral reforms is much ado about nothing.
Should the opposition take part in this sham process?
Yes! Not with the expectation of Museveni driving to Kololo to hand over having been defeated but to galvanize the population and mobilize them to reclaim their sovereignty through civic action.
If the reforms are not tabled within one month as directed by court, will anything happen?
What happened when police invaded the High Court apart from Justice Ogoola writing a good poem about the event?
What happened when security operatives invaded parliament and clobbered MPS like there was no tomorrow?
How many court orders have been ignored by government?
To expect a criminal regime to respect court orders is to stretch one’s mind too far.
Stop unnecessary fights, mobilize, organize, and throw out the senile military junta before 2021 elections.
Nyanjura Doreen Omutatiina is LC5 woman councilor Makerere University,
FDC NEC Member,