The president of the Ugandan National North American Association (UNAA), Henrietta Wamala Ssenabulya has said that one of the issues to be top on the agenda at the forthcoming UNAA Convention will be voting rights for Ugandans abroad in the 2021 general elections.
Addressing journalists in Kampala on Wednesday, Wamala said as Ugandans, it is their right to participate in elections but noted that they are denied chance to exercise it while abroad.
“We are an important block in the development of the country that we need to exercise our rights. We want government to look into it,” the UNAA president said.
“There has been an increase in remittances from Ugandans abroad and it is high time we participated in issues concerning our country like voting from wherever we are.”
UNAA is the largest Ugandan – Diaspora association spanning 32 years and brings together over 2000,000 Ugandans living in North American countries of US, Canada and Mexico.
Just like other associations, UNAA has for a number of years been advocating for Ugandans abroad to particpate in elections back home but the same has not yet been granted.
However, according to Wamala, the dialogue will continue to see that Ugandans abroad exercise their voting rights but also noted that it should begin with national IDs.
“Currently, when you register to get a national ID, you can only receive it while here in Uganda and the process to get it takes almost a month. Those concerned should listen to our voices for solutions,” she noted.
The UNAA president said they would engage various ministries and government departments to ensure their issues are addressed ahead of the 2021 polls.
Many African countries including Kenya, South Africa and Rwanda among others allow their citizens vote from wherever they are in the general elections.
The UNAA president said they would be engaging government on the issue of land grabbing that she said is affecting Ugandans abroad.
“On many occasions, when one buys land back home, by the time they return, it is nowhere to be seen. We have realized an increase in the number of forged land titles. We want the issue addressed by government because it affects us.”
Wamala said many Ugandans abroad are fleeced of their hard-earned money when they try to invest back home, a vice he said needs to be checked.
She noted that at the 32nd annual UNAA convention and trade expo to be held at Hilton San Francisco Union Square between September 3 and 7, they would engage several government officials on a number of issues affecting Ugandan abroad, especially in North America.