Last Tuesday, the Electoral Commission (EC) chairman Justice Simon Byabakama announced that there will be scientific campaigns for General Elections in 2021. The move is aimed at observing Covid-19 guidelines, especially social distancing measure.
The scientific elections will mean that the traditional big rallies that were synonymous with political campaigns across the country, will not be allowed to take place. Instead, the Electoral Commission chairman said this time round, campaigns will be conducted through print, electronic and social media and other online platforms.
Should this be the direction campaigns and voting will take, then the move will make the media, a crucial swing factor in the forthcoming General Election. Due to the impact of the Convid-19 pandemic, the media like many other businesses, has been hit hard financially, with some laying off their staff. Others have reduced their employees’ salaries by up to 50 per cent. Cost-cutting has also been carried out by many media houses.
But with the announcement of scientific elections where the media is the pivotal platform, there is hope that media houses will rebound to good health, financially . This is because politicians who will carry out their campaigns using TV, radio, among others, will have to pay for the services.
Subsequently, the media industry is set to become one of the most lucrative businesses amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some of the MPs sampled following this very announcement, vowed to queue up at radio stations, Television stations and newspaper, just to ensure that they pass over their campaign messages to their targeted electorate.
It is only State-owned media that might not partake of this campaign cash considering that they are mandated to offer free TV and radio air space to candidates, especially those for presidential campaigns.
In 2016, the Supreme Court while delivering its presidential election petition verdict filed by former prime minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi against President Museveni’s victory, came up with about 10 areas that they said needed urgent reforms if the subsequent elections are to be free, fair and credible.
One of the areas that the highest court in the land said should be amended, was for state-owned media houses to provide equal time and space to all candidates, especially presidential ones, to present their programmes.