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Stagger elections over a lengthy period of time

Ikebesi Omoding

Stagger elections over a lengthy period of time

A Ugandan lady casting her vote during the 2021 general elections

Finally, the elections are over – apart from a few repeats of Local Council lll in some areas. It has been a tumultuous period and exercise for the better part on nearly half a year. In that period there has been considerable suffering of the population for a variety of reasons.

In the Sunrise January 8-14, 2021 issue, that headlined, “Amend Laws to Remove Political Parties, Put Individual Merit”, while dealing with the institution of political parties, this column argued that: “Fake announcements by many of Africa’s election commissions in favour of the parties and leaders in power, have taken place in innumerable countries, in elections that had neither been free, fair nor credible. With the current practice and ‘democratic’ institutions, it means Africa will keep on oscillating on the swing of bogus elections.

“There is need to change and reconstruct the political, legal and administrative institutions that have been in place since the Colonial hand-over.” For the last four months-or-so – a quarter of the year – the country has been embroiled in electioneering that has affected all other areas of life and livelihoods.

And this came in the wake of the debilitating Covid-19 pandemic that has rocked the world. So, from that period up to now, there has been no meaningful economic activity in a situation of dire poverty and unemployment. The prelates in the Inter-Religious Council, must have been thinking of this, when earlier on, they had called on the Government to postpone the elections, so as to be better prepared for it. Needless to say, they did not come up with a cogent plan to institute in the place of the existing “democratic process”.

Now, if the recently-elected parliamentarians are patriotic – it does not appear to jell – they should think carefully of the debilitating process of the present system and come up with appropriate laws that will ease the process, so that it actually benefits the citizens.

That idea would be in line with breaking up the polls into presidential, parliamentary, mayoral, district chairmen, local council three, etc. Mercifully, the Local Council One elections had been carried out about two years previously. This should have been the pointer to these other tiers of elections.

The tiers of the elections should be staggered over a period of time, even overlapping some of the tenures of some of the electoral institutions. For instance, the presidential elections, be carried out singly, without tying it up with that of Members of Parliament. In this, if the term of the president is seven years, then the elections for Parliament are carried out two years after the presidential ones. And so on, and so forth.

Parliament could come up with a variation which would be appropriate to the aspirations of the people. Towards this, the Opposition, headed by the National Unity Platform (NUP), would be better placed to come up with private Bills to answer to this call. The onus would also be on them to talk to their counterparts in the ruling party to see the sense in this proposition.

In this manner, it would afford the other level of institution an opportunity to to judge the performance and integrity of the office bearers that they elected into office, two years previously. In that other column, the argument was that:…“The notion of ‘Individual Merit’, would be appropriate in the Ugandan political context.”

It would also give, an election body in place, breathing space to design the election materials in consonance with the time and taking into account their efficacy. For instance, with hindsight, it became obvious that after the presidential and parliamentary elections, the population lost interest in the lower tier of the process.

And yet the lower representatives of the people are the ones in tune with the daily aspirations of the people. So, probably, the way to go would be to start the whole election exercise with the lower level of representation. Depending on how the whole idea would be structured, the most convenient level of representation would be the one to flag off the whole election process with.

All this has to be premised on the assumption and belief that there is a patriotic fervour which should inform the idea and interest in the involvement in the institutions that drive the national interest. Is this moral aptitude there?




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Ikebesi Omoding is the acclaimed author of a weekly column titled: From the Outside Looking In

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