Amidst ongoing complaints about the rising media censorship, the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) has today made an appeal for impartiality ahead of the forthcoming ‘scientific’ electoral campaign period as the country gears up for the 2021 General Elections.
Over the past few months, a number of opposition figures including National Unity Platform’s (NUP) Presidential Candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu aka Bobi Wine have openly accused the media of being lopsided.
Interacting with supporters on October 28, 2020, Bobi Wine blasted an undisclosed media outlet for towing a propagandist line and often distorting the Party’s statements.
“A few weeks ago, they wrote a bogus story about the court case and showed that we were most likely going to lose the case! Their intention, of course, was to discourage candidates from running under NUP. When they come to our press conferences, they twist our words and publish lies intended to weaken us,” he intimated on Facebook.
While addressing Journalists on Wednesday, UPC’s Head of Communications Faizo Muzeyi urged Uganda’s Electoral Commission (EC) to find tenable platforms where all candidates can campaign.
“According to the IEC guidelines, campaigns will be done on radios, televisions and other media platforms with some small meetings of not more than 70 people,” Muzeyi pointed out.
“UPC makes an appeal to the IEC to ensure that Uganda Broadcasting Corporation and its affiliate radios or TV stations among other things to come up with a program that shall offer equal access and opportunities to various political party flag bearers and independent candidates to campaign freely,” he advised.
For one, Muzeyi tipped EC to adopt UPC’s 1980 model where all the four political parties, namely; UPC, Democratic Party (DP), Conservative Party (CP) and President Yoweri Museveni’s Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM) were each given free and equal airtime.
“UPC would like to remind the country that during the December 1980 polls, the then Uganda Television (UTV), now UBC and Radio Uganda did a tremendous job to cover all the four Political Parties in the race equally. This is what the country deserves after 58 years of independence,” Muzeyi concluded.
All said and done, UPC says that the Commission should not only look at limiting the numbers of those attending Political meetings but also take into consideration the size of the campaign venue.
“Only allowing small meetings of not more than 70 people, we request the Independent Electoral Commission to rethink and revise this position. The number of people should not be static, but based on the size of the venue under the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs),” the communique states.
What is at stake?
Going by the Presidential nominations which ended yesterday, eleven Presidential candidates have passed the litmus test to contest for Uganda’s top most office.
These include; Alliance for National Transformation’s (ANT) Gen Mugisha Muntu, incumbent President Yoweri Museveni of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), Forum for Democratic Change’s (FDC) Patrick Amuriat Oboi and Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu aka Bobi Wine among many others.
From November 9, 2020, till January 14, 2021, the above will traverse the country meeting small bands of supporters as a result of the raging Covid-19 Pandemic.
According to a July 22, 2020 EC Press Release, conveners of public meetings are supposed to ensure that respective facilities possess the necessary hand washing facilities and participants wear masks.
“All the identified meeting venues should be preferably outdoor and enable the observance of the said COVID-19 measures and guidelines and social distancing of at least 2 meters apart for the persons attending the meeting/campaigns,” Justice Simon Byabakama disclosed then.
The same communique indicates that there will be 34,344 polling stations in the forthcoming 2021 polls.
Comparably, EC statistics indicate that elective positions across the board have increased from 1,298,463 as of 2016 to 1,582,843 at the moment which translates to a 21.90% increase.
That said, Parliamentary positions have increased from 427 in 2016 to 456 apparently.