Kyadondo East Member of Parliament, Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine has described as ridiculous the revised roadmap announced by the Electoral Commission as the country gears up for the 2021 general elections.
The Electoral Commission on Tuesday announced that mass rallies will not be allowed during the forthcoming 2021 general elections to avoid the spread of Coronavirus and that campaigns will be done on radios and TVs by candidates.
However, in a statement released shortly after the revised roadmap was announced, Bobi Wine said the idea of scientific elections is not fair to both the candidates and the general population.
“In the most ridiculous fashion, the commission has released a revised roadmap for the 2021 general election; which roadmap violates every aspect of a free and fair election, envisaged under Article 1(4) of the Constitution of Uganda,”Bobi Wine said.
The Kyadondo East legislator accused the Electoral Commission of not consulting several stakeholders including political formations, traditional and religious leaders and civil society organizations among others before coming up with the revised program.
The legislator cum musician said the scientific election is not an idea that he welcomes, noting that he cannot accept something that he said violates the constitution.
“We therefore reject the concept of a ‘scientific election’ with the contempt it deserves. What the Electoral Commission just declared is in fact not an election. It is a mockery.”
Whereas the Electoral Commission said campaigns will be done on radios and TVs, Kyagulanyi explained that a majority of Ugandans cannot afford radio and TV sets and will therefore miss out on messages from the various candidates which will be a disadvantage to many.
He added that only 28% of the country’s population has access to electricity, noting that with scientific campaigns, over 70% of the voters will not be able to catch the process.
“We are mindful that the Coronavirus pandemic is real and dangerous. However, government must not use the virus as an excuse to trample on whatever is left of democratic rights. Many Ugandans have put forward logical proposals which ensure that the public health of Ugandans is not compromised, while ensuring that their democratic rights are not taken away,”Bobi Wine noted.
“For example, if the government provided masks to all Ugandans and ensured that campaign meetings take into account social distancing, this would be plausible.”
Quoting article 77(4) of the Constitution, Bobi Wine argued that where circumstances like the current pandemic exist, parliament may by resolution extend its period for a period not exceeding six months at a time.
“These are possible alternatives, and if all stakeholders were consulted, more alternatives would be brought forward. We would rather extend the election by a few months than have a joke in the name of holding an election,” he noted.
He revealed that as opposition politicians, they have started conversations among themselves to find the next course of action.
The Electoral Commission chairman, Justice Simon Byabakama on Tuesday said that whereas they have the duty to recognize the constitutional right of citizens to vote and choose their desired leaders, they are also mandated to observe health guidelines for safety of citizens.
“All campaigns have to be conducted in that manner(through media) because some of our political actors are undisciplined. The safest way is to say no to gatherings,”Byabakama said.
He was however quick to say that if experts advise that the country is free from the virus, they can always change.
“These measures are not cast in stone and if experts tell us we can resume life as normal as has been the case, we shall inform candidates on what to do,” he said.
Speaking to NBS TV in an exclusive interview last month, President Museveni said it would be dangerous to conduct the 2021 general elections when the virus is not yet contained .
“If the virus can stop by June or July, we can have the elections. We don’t have to have a long campaign time, it is easy to organise. If it doesn’t, it is very dangerous. Countries like Iran went on with the elections when the virus was still around and it caused a lot of problems, it is very dangerous,” he said.
“If it(virus) is still there, it will be madness to continue. I don’t think it will be wise to go on.”
The Nile Post recently reported that government has set aside Shs380 billion shillings to buy at least 10 million radio sets and 137,000 TV sets to go to villages across the country.
Two television sets will be allocated to each of the 68,773 villages.