The Uganda Electoral Commission (EC) has unveiled the much-anticipated Strategic Plan and Roadmap for the 2020/21 general elections, officially commencing a new electoral process that will see Ugandans elect 1.5 million leaders in the next three years.
“The elections are around the corner,” said Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda who presided over the launch of the roadmap at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Tuesday morning.
Rugunda said the release of the Strategic Plan and Roadmap gives an opportunity to all stakeholders in the electoral process to engage in the relevant and respective preparatory activities.
“It is also an opportunity for us to promote citizen participation in elections and help to raise the level of socio-political maturity among Ugandans,” he added.
EC Chairman Justice Simon Byabakama said the Strategic Plan is a result of extensive research; stakeholder consultation; evaluation of previous elections and self-assessments which he said have empowered the Commission to “introduce new innovations and improvements in the election management.”
He said the objective of the strategic plan is to provide “clear communication of priority areas in the election cycle with the aim of improving operational efficiency and stakeholder awareness and participation by seeking to build on the positive reforms and innovations introduced in the last general elections.”
The colourful speeches come against the backdrop of serious concerns expressed by different stakeholders in the management of previous elections by the Electoral Commission.
The EC was criticized for the delayed delivery of voting materials in Kampala and Wakiso districts; inadequate voter education and misplacement of voters’ names leading to confusion on the polling days.
Byabakama agreed that a self-assessment had identified several challenges which include delayed enactment and amendment of electoral laws; inadequate training of temporary election officials as a result of limited funds; inadequate voter education because of insufficient funds; staffing gaps in the organization and lack of permanent premises for the Electoral Commission.
According to roadmap presented today, the Commission will in April 2019 start the electoral process with the capture of demarcation and reorganization of polling stations till May 7.
On June 26, 2019, EC will publicise constituencies, electoral areas and their polling stations till July 30 to allow receipt and handling of complaints arising from the demarcation.
On August 14, 2019, the final reorganized polling stations will be published in preparation for the general update of the national voters’ register till October 2.
On December 30, 2019 EC is expected to gazette and publish polling stations before the register is displayed on March 19, 2020 till April 8, 2020.
Tribunal recommendations will be displayed on April 10, 2020 for one month before the retrieval of the national voters’ register display returns from polling stations to the EC headquarters.
The cleaning and processing of the voters register for nominations starts on May 2, 2020 till May 31, 2020.
The candidates’ nomination dates and venues will be gazetted on March 30, 2020.
Nomination of MP and presidential candidates start on August 12, 2020 and August 20,2020 respectively.
Presidential campaigns kick off on September 2, 2020, ending January 9, 2021 while Parliamentary campaigns will be flagged on August 16 and Local Governments on July 30, 2020. Local government nominations start on July 20.
The ballot papers will be printed and delivered by October 27, 2020.
Polling kits will be packed by January 5 before Ugandans elect their next president, MPs and Local Governments on January 11, 2021.
In his speech, Rugunda urged transparency on the part of EC in conducting election business.
“I wish to alert the Commission that following the release of the Strategic Plan and Roadmap, stakeholders in the electoral process are going to mount intense scrutiny of your conduct during the various activities to be undertaken,” cautioned Rugunda.
“This, therefore, calls for continued transparency in the conduct of your programmes and activities,” he added.
The engagement was graced by diplomats of foreign missions in Uganda, representatives of European Union and UNDP; government officials, political party leaders, religious leaders and members of the security forces among others.
Rugunda said this remained a golden opportunity for the Electoral Commission to “build stakeholder confidence in the electoral process and to enhance your reputation as a credible, progressive and proactive election management body.”
He pledged to support the interventions proposed to strengthen good electoral practices and guard our (electoral) processes from potential abuse.
According to EC Secretary Sam Rwakoojo, the total cost of the general elections including Adminstrative units (LC 1 & II) and WoOmen Councils and committees is Shs 868bn.