The opposition Forum for Democratic Change has challenged the decision by the Electoral Commission to ban members of the public from carrying mobile phones and cameras to polling stations during next week’s election.
FDC last evening wrote to the Commission shortly after the latter made the pronouncement, demanding to know its legal basis.
“Provide us with the law which forbids the use of cameras and phones at polling stations. How do we report cases of irregularities and provide evidence at polling station without the use of phones or cameras, unless you want to rig elections,” said FDC’s Nandala Mafabi in a letter to the Commission Chairman Justice Simon Byabakama.
“If you are saying it’s a transparent election, why do you stop observing and comment on the process with equipment which enhances transparency?”
Yesterday while speaking at the dispatching of election materials to districts, Justice Byabakama said the band on cameras and phones was aimed ensuring sanctity of the secret ballot.
“We cannot allow that really. Then what is the essence of a secret ballot. So, that is why we say that please, let us allow the voters freedom to choose leaders of their will or choice without any person knowing, apart from a voter and God. So please, cameras inside polling stations will not be allowed,” he said.
“We are not saying this for any motive but simply because we don’t want to compromise the sanctity of secret ballot,” he added.
However, Nandala Mafabi insists the Commission has no legal basis to ban coverage of the voting process.
He also stresses that the ban was likely to interfere with the work of candidates’ agents at the polling stations, especially if they are not allowed to carry their phones.
“An agent at a polling station uses a phone to communicate with the Party or the appointing authority. If you refuse a phone how will he/ she communicate?” he wondered.