Published by ACFIM on

Older persons college elections were a mockery of democracy

Hon Dr. Maria Matembe, former parliamentary candidate for National Older Persons (Photo Courtesy of pmldaily.com)

In August 2020, members of parliament passed The Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2020 just four months to the general election. This bill was intended to amend the Parliamentary Elections Act, 2005 to provide for the inclusion of five representatives of older persons as a special interest group (SIG) in Parliament.

The above bill stipulates that four representatives of older persons in parliament shall be elected from the four regions of the country namely: Northern, Eastern, Central and Western region. One national woman representative would also be jointly elected in respect to affirmative action as per Articles 32(1) of the Constitution.

Prior to the amendment of this bill, persons with disabilities, workers, youth, and the army were the only interest groups represented in Parliament.

In an interview with SecretsKnown, 67-year-old Miria Matembe a prominent politician and former national female representative candidate for older persons claimed that the election was disgustingly stashed with money.

Dr. Matembe stood as an independent candidate for the national female MP for older persons against NRM’s Hon. Joy Pegy Waako who emerged winner. Dr. Matembe narrated her experience from the eve of the E-day. She recounted that her opponent, Hon. Waako, erected a tent right outside the E.C offices where her team received 730 delegates handing out to each, NRM Yellow masks and envelopes with an amount of money she failed to establish.

The team then lifted their luggage, gave them sodas, and transported them to the accommodation venue where they were treated to a party with lots of food and beers, a sauna, and massages. She insinuated that the election was characterized by voter purchase because delegates were brought in bulk and purchased.

On E-day, Dr.Matembe was unbelievably awakened by phone calls from delegates like, “Honorable, are you also giving us something?” She stressed her disappointment in the behavior of the elderly because she assumed that the elderly had some morality left.

She accused the Electoral Commission of facilitating vote bribery because if voters were facilitated on time and not after the elections, they probably wouldn’t be prone to bribery.

On top of all the voter bribery, this election being the first of its kind, experienced low participation right from the beginning partly because most citizens were unaware. Dr. Matembe emphasized that the election of committees for the special interest groups was held in secrecy from the village level with an intention of leaving out people.

According to the Electoral Commission Guidelines for the nomination of candidates for election of older person’s councils and committees, 2020, appointment of nomination days, places and time shall be published in the Gazette and the local media.

Dr. Matembe purportedly pointed out that the electoral commission failed on this duty and did not publicize the process as mandated. “One wouldn’t know about the elderly election unless they were interested,” she added.

Of the 5 NRM candidates fronted, 2 of these from the east and western region went through un-opposed. Dr. Matembe accused them of buying off and intimidating the other candidates that had shown interest in the race.

In her observation of the Northern region elections that took place in Arua, she reported that NRM’s Hon. Catherine Mavenjina, former State Minister for Public service catered for every delegate’s transport, meals, accommodation, and because she(Ms. Matembe) didn’t have anything to offer them, they paid her no attention as she delivered her manifesto.

In an account from one of her agents who doubled as a delegate in Luweero during the Central region elections, it was alleged that Hon. Busingye Peninah (NRM) supposedly gave each delegate a sum of UGX 900,000 ($255) to UGX 1 million ($282).

The NRM party went on to sweep all 5 positions for the older persons elections, could this be because of the large stacks of cash that they injected in the election?

In her view, Dr. Matembe suggested that the SIG elections be dropped because their intended purpose had been entirely abused to benefit and strengthen NRM’s numbers in parliament.

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