By Richard Mbayo
The deliberate refusal by Electoral Commission to release President Yoweri Museveni’s academic documents should alert the opposition to the difficult battles they will face in the upcoming general election. The opposition has to ask itself if this same EC would be willing to declare an opposition candidate the winner of the 2021 presidential against the longest ruling President in the history of Uganda?
It took 3 days for Electoral Commission to release academic documents of Uganda’s leading Opposition and Popstar Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Bobi Wine when the city lawyer Male Mabirizi submitted his request for the documents. The same Commission prevaricated when requested for President Museveni’s academic documents by lawyer Muwada Nkunyingi on 21st August. Eventually, the EC declared that “Museveni’s academic documents do not require verification.”
The most important aspect in this matter is that the head of EC is a professional lawyer and former Judge who clearly understands the laws of the land but he has decided not to respect and honor the rule of law. One can only wonder then, “How do you expect an ordinary Ugandan to believe in the rule of law when the pioneers of laws are refusing to act when it comes to big fish?”
The 2021 elections have been declared Uganda’s first scientific election. This means that ideally candidates for political office are expected to exploit new online media avenues to reach their potential voters. The candidates can also use radios and TVs, which are the most widely disseminated media, far beyond the internet in Uganda.
Unfortunately, political candidates like People Power’s Robert Kyagulanyi have been blocked at every turn from appearing on radio shows to argue their case. It reached such an extent that the Uganda Police was asking radio stations and TVs to submit requests to the police and the Uganda Communications Commission for permission to host politicians on their shows.
Politicians returning from appearances on radio shows have sometimes found themselves held in police cells for days before being released with no charges. This begs the question: will the 2021 elections be free and fair if the campaigns themselves are already compromised and the EC stays mute on the matter?
The opposition has to think long and hard about the election they are going into and if it is worth it to contest with one hand tied behind its back.
The ball is in the court of Ugandans who will have to demand for their victory in case the EC declares as winner a candidate of its own choice and not who the people want.
This piece was written by Richard Mbayo, a scholar at Silk Road School of Renmin University of China.