The National Unity Platform (NUP) secretary-general, David Lewis Rubongoya has said that the Electoral Commission’s nomination fees are meant to deter opposition from competing with the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM).
According to the EC, every candidate who wants to be nominated to contest as a member of parliament will have to pay shs. 3 million in fees before they can be cleared to appear on the ballot paper.
While addressing the press on Tuesday morning, Rubongoya said this is a lot of money which was meant to lock out members of the opposition from contesting against the NRM.
Rubongoya said, “We all know that NRM uses state resources and pays nomination fees for all its candidates, they know that candidates in opposition may not afford this money and therefore they won’t compete against them.”
Rubongoya added that if a party like NUP wanted to pay nomination fees for at least 500 candidates, they will need about shs. 1.5 billion.
“Now 1.5 billion is a lot of money and it is difficult for the party,” Rubongoya said.
The secretary-general said that as NUP, they believe that leadership should never be a privilege of the well-to-do but for everyone who has leadership credentials.
Last month, the NUP launched a campaign dubbed ‘Muda ku Muda’ to support its candidates’ campaigns, and last week, the party called for donations to help their flag bearers to clear the nomination fees as required by the EC.
Rubongoya noted that the money was meant to support their candidates who might not be able to raise the shs. 3 million.
Rubongoya said that they will later on Tuesday evening announce how much that has been raised so far.
FDC has no problem with nomination fees
However, while NUP laments about the fees suffocating the opposition, Forum for Democratic Change has indicated that all its parliamentary candidates will be sponsored by the party.
Meanwhile, the opposition Democratic Party (DP) and Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) have also not (at least publicly) expressed their issues with the nomination fees for parliamentary candidates.
What did they expect?
The Executive Director for Citizen Coalition for Electoral Democracy Uganda (CCEDU) Charity Ahimbisibwe, has blamed parties like NUP for exposing their candidates with their ill-equipped preparations for elections.
According to Ahimbisibwe, parties have been aware of the nomination fees for over a year now and it is very strange that they did not prepare early.
NUP has launched only three months ago, but its leaders have been aware of the possibility of nomination fees.
NUP spokesperson says something is being done
However, NUP spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi has revealed that the party intends to identify specific candidates that need help. These will be most popular on the ground but with no means and also those who have raised a certain sum and need top-ups.