The opposition Democratic Party (DP) presidential candidate Nobert Mao has discouraged fellow political candidates from holding mass campaign rallies and gathering crowds during this election campaign season, so as not to worsen the Covid19 spread.
Mao who was campaigning in Isingiro district on Monday, said some countries in Europe that had tried to contain the virus, were hit by the second wave of the pandemic due to relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.
“I would discourage any candidate from deliberately encouraging people to crowd. Countries that had pushed back Corona (COVID-19) in Europe and some States in North America are having a second wave of the virus. So, I would discourage candidates and their supporters from deliberately putting people at risk. We all have a responsibility to protect our people. As a leader, I pledge not to contribute to the spread of COVID-19. I pledge to educate people, I pledge to play my part in preventing the spread of Coronavirus,” he said.
Mao however, noted that stopping masses from gathering during campaigns is difficult.
“We have tried to tell people to keep a distance, nobody is listening. Enforcing the rule for wearing a mask is a headache.”
Despite his remarks however, Mao attracted masses who looked to be beyond the 200, a number that is allowed by the Electoral Commission and Ministry of Health at any political rally.
Although the Electoral Commission banned all campaign rallies in an effort to contain COVID-19 spread, some candidates such as opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu and Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) candidate Patrick Amuriat Oboi have defied the guidelines saying that many flag bearers of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party have gone ahead to hold mass rallies.
Meanwhile Mao said that resources are a constraint in this “scientific” election campaigns on grounds that many radio stations have inflated their fares.
“This campaign has become very expensive. Radio stations have hiked their rates. In the last campaign, you would pay between 300,00 and 600,000. Now, the lowest you will be asked for is a million shillings. I understand, in some districts, they have put prohibitive prices so that we are discouraged,” he said.
Asked about the cost of this “scientific” campaign elections, Mao said that the minimum amount needed by each candidate is 5 billion shillings.
Although political parties get money from Government in proportion to the number of members a party has in Parliament, Mao said that DP has only 15, and therefore gets a slim share.
“In a whole Financial Year, DP gets about 400 million shillings. I think the FDC gets something about a billion. The NRM gets over 8 billion shillings and JEEMA gets less than 60 million. “The formula for sharing, he said is imbalance.
“The law provides that money for campaigning should be allocated equally. We expect that political parties with presidential candidates will get an allocation on an equal basis and then political parties with parliamentary candidates will get money in proportion to parliamentary candidates that they have nominated. So far, the Government has not released money for campaigns. The money they released was the statutory amount for running of the political parties. That is the money which we used to pay the nomination fee for our candidates. Up to now, we are waiting for the release from Government as the law describes.”
“Whatever we are using now, we are not depending on the money from Consolidated Fund. We are only depending on money from well-wishers and donors we had contacted much earlier as we prepared for the campaigns,” he added.