Kampala- While elections are believed to be the most democratic way through which citizens choose their leaders, less than half of Ugandans seem to have faith in the ability to change government through a vote.
This is contained in the latest opinion poll commissioned by the Daily Monitor and conducted by a research firm, Research World International.
Responding to a question; “Generally, do you think by voting you can change government in Uganda?” Forty six per cent of the 2,142 respondents surveyed across all the regions and the demographic and social status lines, said they believed elections can cause change of government. Twenty five per cent believed no change can come through the ballot, 10 per cent preferred not to comment and 19 per cent did not know.
Assessed by age group, 30-35 year-olds held the most faith in elections turning in a 51 per cent endorsement. They are followed closely by 17-18 year olds, 49 per cent of whom believe it is possible to change government through elections.
Fewer women than men believe change of government can be achieved through voting, posting 45 per cent compared to their male counterparts at 49 per cent.
By social status, the most sceptical in the electoral processes are the AB-class at only 42 per cent. According to the lead researcher, this category refers to the wealthy, well-educated and part of the middle class.
They also tend to be older, 50 years and above.
However, the C1-class, the group fighting to climb up the social ladder, shows the most faith in election, returning a 53 per cent endorsement.
This level of support directly mirrors an age group on the move, 30-35 who also turned in the same level of faith.
The last three general elections in the country have been fraught with complaints of massive rigging. The 2001 and 2006 presidential polls were contested in court by the closest opposition candidate Kizza Besigye. On both occasions, the judges ruled that the voting had been marred with massive irregularities, but declined to annul the elections nevertheless.
Like elections, the Electoral Commission had its approval ratings below 50 per cent, with 48 per cent of the respondents believing the current electoral body can conduct a free and fair election.
The 17-18 age group has the most faith in the Electoral Commission to conduct free and fair elections, giving it a 58 per cent rating.
The least confidence in the national electoral body is held by the AB-class where only 22 per cent believe the current EC can conduct free and fair elections, with 64 per cent saying it cannot. Eleven per cent of this group declined to comment and three per cent said they did not know.
At 61 per cent, western region shows the most approval of the Electoral Commission, while the EC’s capability to hold free and fair elections is most doubted in Central region at 40 per cent
The EC spokesperson Jotham Taremwa said the results show the Commission is improving its public perception.
Arua District Woman MP Christine Abia Bako, a member of the Forum for Democratic Change party (FDC), questioned the sample size and type of respondents. She said 46 per cent approval rating of EC was generous.
EC independency doubted
She said the manner in which the Commission members are appointed, their known political affiliations and considering statements by senior government officials like former coordinator of intelligence agencies Gen David Sejusa, confirm that the EC is not independent.
Early this year, Gen Sejusa said Dr Kizza Besigye had won the 2006 elections but the results were doctored by the intelligence agencies and only passed over what the EC should announce. They denied the claim.
The opposition has been going around the country campaigning for reforms in electoral law and the disbandment of the Electoral Commission.