Opinion
Calls to disband the EC are misdirected
Publish Date: Apr 29, 2014
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By Obed K Katureebe

The call to disband the Electoral Commission by members of the opposition is driven more by emotions and fury that is fuelled largely by misinformation and lack of information.

For quite some time, opposition parties in Uganda have been crisscrossing the country telling members of the public that, as a country, we need electoral reforms before the 2016 general elections. They are also demanding for disbandment of the current Electoral Commission (EC) under Eng. Badru Kiggundu.
 

Among the many reforms the opposition is talking about is that the EC commission should be reconstituted with political parties having representatives on it.

They want presidential term limits back and the Government to reconstitute the role of security organs in the electoral process, among many other reforms.
 

On the face of it, their demands look so legitimate because any rational Ugandan would want positive electoral reforms that would make the electoral results more credible and believable by all parties involved.

Electoral malpractices do not hurt members of the opposition only; they hurt every participating member in equal measures.
 

Therefore, it is in the interest of all Ugandans to have electoral reforms for the country to continue registering credible electoral results, if we are to entrench and nurture the culture of democracy.
 

However, the opposition seems to be having other schedules but pretend to be advocating for electoral reforms.

Foremost, after clearly and publically outlining what they want to be included in the reforms they want, they should engage the relevant organs of the Government to have them operationalised.

For example, has the opposition engaged the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs for meaningful dialogue in which the two parties would agree on how to proceed since most of the demands require constitutional amendments?
 

Am reliably informed that cabinet has already tasked all ministers with legal background to constitute a committee that would study and draft a proposal to make constitutional electoral reforms.

This, therefore, means that, both the Government and the opposition are literally in agreement to have positive electoral reforms.
 

The right institutions for the opposition to engage for electoral reforms are the Parliament and the Interparty Organization Dialogue (IPOD) which is a forum for all political parties represented in Parliament.

True, the civil societies and other members of the public can be engaged but this can only be at a secondary level.
 

The idea of disbanding the Electoral Commission as demanded by members of the opposition is laughable. This is because the top managers of the commission are vetted by both Cabinet and Parliament before taking up those crucial responsibilities.

Indeed, our Parliament has rejected other people suggested by the President for specific appointments when their integrity was found wanting.
 

The idea of bringing into the EC people representing different political parties is very defective. This is because any attempt to implement that will defeat the very notion of the independence of the Electoral Commission.

Certainly, these members from the different political parties will be pushing for the interest of their parties and not playing non partisan roles as the commission is supposed to be. The commission should be free of any political interests.
 

If members of the opposition do feel that the EC should be insulated from any Executive influence, they should push for new legislations that will make members of the EC feel more secure to execute their duties without fear or favour.

Those laws could empower the Commission to have enough resources in time to be able to perfect their work minus any blame.
 

Unfortunately, the opposition is consumed with political rallies across the country that can only enrich the populist agenda than addressing the real substance at stake.
 

In fact the opposition packaging of the demand for electoral reforms now sound so suspect that they are literally affirming what some pundits have been putting across that the whole idea of upcountry tours is to rebrand Dr Kizza Besigye, who will be fielded as single opposition candidate come 2016.
 

There are those who think that the opposition is trying to reignite the now dead walk-to-work through berating the Government as being insensitive to their general social problems.

Of course these allegations come up because the proponents of the electoral reforms rarely talk about those reforms during the public rallies they hold but instead use the platform to scold the Government with all nature of accusations.
 

Finally, unless the opposition changes their strategy and realises that the earlier they engaged Parliament and the Executive to make the necessary electoral reforms in time, people are about to begin questioning their intentions in rather very critical way. It would be totally wrong and unbecoming to call for the disbandment of an institution like the EC.

Let us, on the other hand, push for the disbandment of the inadequacies that might be impinging on them as they work to hold cleaner elections.
 

The writer works with Uganda Media Centre

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