IMPACT OF MONETISED POLITICS ON PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY IN UGANDA.
Impact of Monetized Politics on People with Disability in Uganda
“Participation in politics is a right every person must enjoy including people with disabilities.” This remark was made by Candia Emmanuel on last week’s episode of ACFIM Talks. Candia who is a national representative aspirant for people with disabilities, advocate and founding partner at Candia advocates and legal Consultants discussed the impact of monetised politics on PWDs.
He stated that PWDs should not be excluded in decision making so that they are as well involved in governance to jointly contribute developing the economy. PWDs can choose to participate in the regular direct seats or the special interest college elections for PWDs.
Candia described some of the unique challenges PWDs face in participating in electoral politics noting that they affect both the candidates and voters with disability. These challenges can also be defined by the position one opts for. If one chooses direct seat the challenges may differ from those under the special interest category.
He cited discrimination as one of the major challenges they face especially when standing for open direct seats. The public often questions why they are not contesting under the position reserved for PWDs.
One of the other challenges for participation of PWDs is crafted in the law where they are represented at national level as opposed to other SIGs who are represented at regional level. Candidates ae required to traverse all districts across the country just like the presidential aspirants which added to their disability makes it very difficult.
The secret known here is that so many interested and competent PWDs opt out because of the heavy costs involved to traverse the entire country as well as physical harm it brings to body health.
He shared his experience in engaging with delegates across the whole country which involves high fuel and accommodation costs. Extra costs are also incurred in hiring aides for sign language interpretation, braille, tap tile which are included in planning and budgeting in order to reach the entire electorate.
Candia hinted that just as the youth face difficulty raising the nomination fees, so do the PWDs who equally pay UGX 3milion ($1,000). According to statistics, majority of PWDs, fall under the poor in the poverty indices.
He advised that political parties need to review policies towards election funding processes. He urged that if political parties are to provide support, PWDs should be considered more because they have larger areas of coverage as well as the inhibitive aspects of disability and aide support that triples the cost.
Candia who is contesting on a Forum for Democratic Change ticket says the party has been able to pay for his nomination and is also further fundraising to provide for other expenses required.
For participation as voters, there is limited access to voter information and the information normally issued out through television and radio talk shows is not fully accessible to some PWDs.
In the context of scientific elections declared by the Electoral Commission where campaigns are digital mostly on television and radio, most talk shows do not consider people with hearing impairment yet according to the Uganda Communications Commission in terms of access to information, the majority of Ugandans access information through radio.
Candia recommended that in order to overcome commercialisation of politics, there needs to be a shift in the law and legal frame work in place to address the question of election finance which must be structured through political parties.
He also emphasized the need for amendments in the PWD law to entrench regional representation to bring down the burden for PWDs, representation should be made at regional level so candidates can focus within a region to immeasurably reduce the costs.
The population needs to be continually made aware of the negative impact of commercialised politics. As a proponent for a free and fair, violence free election, Candia discouraged violence stating that PWDs are usually the victims of violence.