EC should also apply digital means to work

Wednesday August 05 2020

James T. Yesiga

When will government departments start to support each other or work as if they serve the same populace. How can the electoral body see the value in a scientific election and fail to see value in “scientific job applications” in the wake of Covid-19?

A few weeks ago, the Electoral Commission put out a job advert for several jobs like it often does in the run-up to a General Election. The deadline was July 3. I was not keen on the particulars of the job advert until a friend of mine, who is based upcountry, asked me to physically deliver his application to the Electoral Commission.

I was taken aback first by the fact that physical applications were mandatory, and also that a government department that should know better, had literally asked thousands of Ugandans from all corners of the country to risk their lives to possible Covid-19 infection to converge at their offices and physically hand over their applications!

In doing so, the Electoral Commission did not only put the lives of thousands of job-seeking Ugandans at risk, but also put their own staff at risk as they interacted with the very many applicants. When are we going to start seeing government departments mutually reinforcing each other’s efforts? Is that too much to ask of those we pay to think and implement policies and procedures that should have the best interest of citizens at heart?

In this day and age, why would any prospective employer require applicants to physically deliver their applications? By that action alone, the Electoral Commission sabotaged efforts by at least two other government departments - Nema and Ministry of Health. Imagine all the ongoing efforts to protect the environment! Yet all printed applications will have to be disposed off after the process one way or the other.

When I attempted to personally deliver my friend’s application, I found the premises so crowded that apart from the fact that I could not spare the four hours it took my messenger to finally deliver the application, I felt it was inhuman to make job seekers go through all that avoidable hassle.


What happened to online applications? Did I hear that the government was coming up with an online job application platform some time last year? Where did all that end? Those are the kinds of projects that should be prioritised over and above creating constituencies!
Granted. The Electoral Commision had endeavoured to put in place a flow chart to manage the evidently high volume of applicants , but failing dismally to maintain social distancing. But was all this necessary?

Already, the electoral body is handling a high volume of visitors in respect of the forthcoming election and to that you add an avoidable burden of thousands of applicants! If this was to happen during Kisanja hakuna mikyezo period, someone should have paid for this level of carelessness. Imagine if any of the applicants had Covid-19 or if any staff at the electoral body had it and they passed it on to the thousands of applicants from across the country!

I think we need to blacklist all organisations (government or otherwise) that still insist on physical job applications. Apart from the risks involved in travelling and printing that spoils the environment, some desperate job seekers have to borrow transport money so as to be able to hand in their applications.

Yet with the current level of unemployment, the chances of one being successful may be less than 1 per cent for any given job? When you consider the additional risk with travel now posed by COVID 19 you begin to wonder whether these organisations are really acting in public interest.