COLLEGE ELECTIONS FUELLING VOTER BRIBERY
College Elections Fuelling Voter Bribery
On January 18, 2021, Uganda held Special interest group elections for both the elderly and Worker’s Members of Parliament. These elections are carried out under the Electoral College system where only a few selected delegates chosen and registered with the Electoral Commission vote on behalf of the majority.
The Electoral College system in Uganda has recently gained traction with petitions that it is not only democratically unfair but also very costly. The secret known here is that the college system serves to encourage voter bribery. This is because voters are few and stakes are very high allowing voter bribery to thrive.
The workers MP elections that transpired yesterday vividly showed how candidates openly bribed voters with hopes to win them over. It is alleged that on the eve of the Election, some candidates organised early morning secret meetings with voters in undisclosed venues where bundles of money were dispatched to voters from different trade unions with instructions to “vote well”.
Later in the evening, it was also reported that many voters were approached in their different hotel rooms by campaign agents of different political candidates. Each voter was supposedly given up to a sum of 200,000 shillings ($60) with the hope by the candidates they would win over their vote.
Some of the delegates turned the election into a money-making venture receiving money from whoever was willing to give and some even pocketed up to 1,000,000shillings ($300).
Since Candidates for the worker’s MP position campaign amongst trade unions, they also had to incur costs in procuring of stationery for the trade unions whose members constitute the voters. They purchased laptops, printers, bags, realms of papers, food baskets during the festive season.
The elderly position for Member of parliament, a new position in the August house has not been spared either form this dirty act of vote bribery. Even the elderly who one would imagine to uphold high morals and restrain from vote bribery have equally taken part. In the central region, candidate Namakula Halima, first runner-up for the elderly member of Parliament, attributed her loss to the victor, Peninah Busingye accusing her of massively buying off the voters.
The youth representative election remains the only special interest group category awaiting voting on 31st January to 1st February. This election will also most likely be mired with scenes of vote bribery just like the other special interest categories under the Electoral College system.
The youth have always lamented that this voting system is tedious and expensive as it requires transportation of voters/delegates from one place to another and also discriminates the potentially good youth leaders with good ideology and manifesto from taking up leadership.
ACFIM advices that this Electoral College system is revised because it is very expensive for the candidates and has only fostered the monster of commercialised politics.