On March 17, 2018, Jinja East constituency is going to vote for a Member of Parliament in a by-election.
But as the date for the election draws near, some of the candidates are already showing distrust in the electoral system, which is quite ironic, given the by-election is being held because of poll malpractice that was cited in the previous election.
In a press conference held Wednesday, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) candidate Paul Mwiru said that he had realized that there are over 2,072 ghost voters that were included on the national voter register of Jinja East constituency.
Mwiru thus held the press briefing to call on the bodies responsible for the registration process – the Electoral Commission and the National Identification Registration Authority — to stop “perpetrating fraud and misusing government funds.”
Giving an example of 2016 general elections, Mwiru said that during that time the voter register had 26,421 voters, but to his surprise – while announcing the election roadmap for Jinja municipality east constituency — the chairman of the commission proclaimed “28,493 as the number of voters on the voter register with a variance of 2,072 ghost voters.”
“I have realized that 2,072 have been put on the national voter register for Jinja municipality east without registering for the National identification,” said Mwiru.
At the conference, Paul Mwiru presented a list of illegal voters; for instance Janet Nabulumba who has been recorded as a voter in Works Village, is legally a voter of Busowa central in Bugiri district.
Another such example is Nalugo Kagora, who was put on the Main Street as a voter but she is supposed to poll from Butabala in Iganga municipality.
EC leaders accused
Paul Mwiru told newsmen that the said illegal voters were smuggled into list by Pontius Namugere, an EC official working in IT department and Jacob Wakabi, a brother to NRM, or National Resistance Movement, candidate Igeme Nathan Nabeta, who was thrown out of parliament by the court of appeal and thus the by-election.
A staff of NIRA was also accused but Mwiru did not give the name.
The FDC candidate said that he had raised all these complaints to the electoral commission, but he was not able to get a satisfactory answer.
“I see this as a move by the National resistance movement (NRM) through the electoral commission to steal this election because the electoral commission now is almost partially being run like a fraud organization because they are condoning illegalities,” said Mwiru.
Despite these challenges, Paul Mwiru noted that he was not “afraid” of going for any other by-election “if this by-election is not free and fair.”
He, however, said he was concerned about public resources that are being wasted in organized sham elections.
“Am given to understand that the electoral commission is spending 500 million shillings in conducting this election, the Uganda police will spend over 1 Billion, the NRM will spend over 2 Billion shillings in bribing voters in Jinja east, I want to assure you that we shall another by-election and the taxpayer will continue loosing,” said Mwiru.
He, therefore, called upon the National Identification Registration Authority to come clean and publish the 1,354 persons realized out of the update process of Jinja Municipality East National Identification Register from the 2016 general elections to 3rd February 2018.
However, speaking to ChimpReports, Rogers Sserunjjogi, the returning officer for Jinja district said that voters have been increasing day by day in Jinja municipality east, adding that there are those that have made 18 years and are eligible to vote.
“Mwiru wrote to the electoral commission and the electoral commission replied on those issues but he is not contented, he can write again to the commission to get clarity,” Sserunjjogi said.
He added that Mwiru had a chance to spot those people he says are not legible voters for Jinja east at the time names were displayed.
6 candidates are contending in this election.