Paul Mwiru, the Jinja Municipality MP said that the commission officials absently manage the electoral process and only pop up when it’s time to announce the results
EC chairperson, Simon Byabakama. Photo/File
KAMPALA - Members of Parliament on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee have accused Electoral Commission officials of abdicating their mandate of manning the electoral process to the state.
The MPs noted that there were instances where the state took control of the process and only let the Electoral Commission to declare the results.
Paul Mwiru, the Jinja Municipality MP said that the commission officials absently manage the electoral process and only pop up when it’s time to announce the results.
He said they leave everything to the state, which then heavily deploys mean looking armed security officers who intimidate voters.
Wilfred Niwagaba, the Ndorwa East legislator said that EC has also left the responsibility of demarcating constituencies to the executive arm of government.
“Your responsibility under article 61 of the constitution is to demarcate constituencies, which responsibility you have completely left to the executive arm of government and as a result, the cost of public administration has sky rocketed, villages are turning into constituencies, sub-counties are becoming districts. Why do you continue to allow the executive to override you in that area?” he asked.
He explained that on top of giving them responsibility to demarcate constituencies, the constitution also defines clearly the way in which the demarcations are supposed to be done.
They also noted that the demarcations are done in very unfair manner with some constituencies having more villages than the others
The MPs raised the concerns after listening to the presentation of the EC’s budget framework for the financial year 2019/2020.
Asuman Basalirwa, the newly elected Bugiri Municipality legislator also accused the commission of acting unfairly when issuing gazette notices on successful candidates, saying the process is quicker for the ruling party members and slower for the opposition.
Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda accused the EC of disqualifying opposition candidates from the race at whim without a proper reason.
In response, Justice Simon Byabakama, the EC chairperson, denied the MPs accusations, saying they are still under control.
“We have not surrendered our mandate to the executive. We are in charge of all the electoral processes. Where we get reports of violence we act,” he said.
He referred the legislators to article 63 of the constitution that spells out the instances under which constituencies maybe demarcated, saying their mandate is only to implement what Parliament has prescribed by making sure that each constituency is represented in parliament through conducting elections.
On the inconsistencies in the number of villages per constituency, the Commissions’ Director of Operations, Leonard Mulekwa said that when demarcating constituencies, they look at the sub-County and the number of parishes.
He explained that a sub-county should be able to have 10 councilors in the district or they consider the size of the parish.
On disqualification of candidates from the electoral race, Byabakama explained that they do it on the basis of law and facts.