Kiggundu is a decent man and one of the few patriotic public servants. He became chairman of the EC after Moses Sebunya, the Presidentsâ€™ initial choice, was rejected by the opposition, on the basis that he was NRM.
The fact that his nomination was approved by Parliament, means that he represents both the opposition and the Government. Before his appointment as EC chairman all views were taken into consideration.
I had the privilege to meet Kiggundu and our meeting left a lasting impression on me. It is this that forms the basis of my defence of his character, as a man of integrity, a key requirement for one to serve as chairman of the EC.
Through the media, the opposition has crafted Kiggundu as pawn in the political game to win the 2011 elections. Their strategy is to discredit him as a person of no integrity, hence a man who will deliver a flawed election outcome.
The aim is to cause doubt, and call into question the credibility of the results, should NRM win, and hopefully force a power sharing arrangement â€” a current trend in the African electoral politics.
I was reminded to challenge this narrative after I met my cousin Jim Nuwamanya, who now works at the EC. Upon inquiring about the chairman, who I referred to as a good man, Nuwamanya could not agree more. He admitted that prior to working at the EC, his perception of him was not as favourable as it is now. Just like Nuwamanya, mine was no different.
I first met the EC chairman at Makerere University in 2007, where I had been requested to discuss his presentation on Ugandaâ€™s electoral politics within a multiparty framework. With a pre-conceived notion of who I thought he was, I paid little attention to him, and have to admit, was not fully convinced by his presentation, which reinforced my biases.
As I prepared to leave, without offering a hello, or shake of hands, he walked up to me and introduced himself. We got into a discussion, and he requested for my business card. My first impression of Kiggundu was that he was warm, and lacked the â€˜big manâ€™ aura that surrounds most of our public officials.
The next morning I found an email, requesting for an opportunity to meet at the earliest possible time, to further discuss ideas on how young Ugandans could play a leading role in the countryâ€™s electoral processes.
Refusing to concede on my skepticism, I asked a close friend whose views are critical of the NRM government, to accompany me.
Upon arrival at his office, a cup of tea, and pleasantries exchanged, he requested to invite the secretary Sam Rwakojo to join us, in what became a two-hour meeting.
Our talk focused on how the EC could reach out to the youth, and how electoral violence could be mitigated in the future. We both left impressed with his openness to new ideas and his love and commitment to serve the country. He requested for a follow-up meeting, again with Rwakojo and the legal officer, Alfred Okello, and Molly Nawe, the head of voter education at the EC. He said this would help his team get new ideas of how to satisfy the needs of the youth in the forthcoming elections.
Based on what Kiggundu stressed as independent and progressive views, the EC held a joint meeting with senior management and all commissioners to discuss our ideas, ahead of their preparations for the elections.
With admiration, I watched Kiggundu skillfully sell the â€˜progressiveâ€™ views we had presented to him, to a skeptical commission, and right there, I could not help but think that we had very few of such leaders. People who believed in the young generation, their aspirations, contributions to the prosperity and future stability of our country.
After many meetings and several documents jointly drafted with the technical staff at the EC, it was clear that not even the determination of Kiggundu would win over the business-as-usual attitude at the EC. Not wanting to put the EC chairman at odds with his team, we decided to withdraw.
However, the enriching discussions resulted in a lasting friendship which I cherish and in my records, sets him apart as an outstanding leader and a humble civil servant.
What has been said of him by some members of the opposition, therefore, can be dangerous when left unchallenged. The sentiments of the opposition might quickly establish themselves as a matter of truth and discredit the reputation of a decent man beyond his tenure at the EC. This can also put the credibility of the 2011 elections in doubt.
The writer is a public relations and communications consultant
Why should the opposition discredit Badru Kiggundu?