Wednesday January 8 2014

Bills on EC reviews are welcome

After 51 years of Independence Uganda has made some modest strides towards democratic governance but there are many who argue that substantial democratic governance systems have remained elusive in the country.

But there are encouraging reports about civil society actors receiving bipartisan support in Parliament for two “model” electoral reform Bills in which they are calling for an overhaul of the Electoral Commission ahead of the 2016 polls.
The Constitutional (Amendment) Bill and The Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill point to a lack of faith in the current electoral body and seek, among other things, to restore credibility in the electoral process.

It is good to know that Members of Parliament’s Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, whose docket handles electoral reform Bills, have welcomed the proposed reforms of the EC.

Much as the country has held a number of elections to appoint leaders at various levels, the country’s electoral process still suffers massive accusations of irregularities and malpractices, which have continued to cast doubt on the overall fairness of the process.

The draft Bills are also aimed at reducing the powers of the President when it comes to appointing commissioners of the EC. They want the President’s role to be “purely ceremonial”.
In the wake of these developments, it is good to know the (current) electoral body is doing all it can [to re-gain public confidence] based on its Road Map to 2016, which was unveiled in May last year. Still, it is important for the EC to acknowledge that there are questions about its credibility, especially because the President, who appoints commissioners, is also the chairman of the ruling NRMO party.

We support the demands for the Electoral Commission Act, cap 140 to provide clear qualification requirements to guarantee that persons appointed have the necessary experience, qualifications and independence to execute their duty.
Electoral reforms should not be limited to the EC but it is important to acknowledge that the EC plays a key role in the country’s electoral process. As we seek to attain electoral reforms across the board, it is important that we urgently fix the weaknesses within the country’s electoral body.