Election period is in high gear as political parties hold nominations

Thursday July 30 2020

 

By Karoli Ssemogerere

Last week, senior officials of the Electoral Commission, including Sam Rwakoojo, the accounting officer, were relieved of their duties.

One narrative was that they had asked for early retirement even though the entire process for asking for early retirement and actual retirement took hours.
The staff at the Commission describe what happened as the staff having been excluded from their offices.

The second narrative was to the effect that the IGG was conducting certain investigations. The third narrative was to the effect there were a procurement dispute on preparation of election materials, storage and related subjects.

Lastly, the Commissioners felt the chain of command had been diluted. The EC has been working under a council system where all commissioners meet to deliberate over commission business prepared by the technical staff. The chairman is not an executive chairman and he cannot wield the powers of the Commission as a person and the accounting powers lie with the secretary. He sounded relieved that the episode was over.

NRM this week held nominations for its flag bearer and aspirants for Parliament as well. The President was in a buoyant mood even talking about the dip in the exchange rate that spooked sections of the market on Monday. He noted that a number of activities were producing more than the market can absorb. In countries which use subsidies, they are temporary and the farmers are not allowed to produce more without identifying new markets.

This anomaly has created problems for subsistence farmers who cannot compete with imported fruits, vegetables, foodstuffs like Irish potatoes, many of which are produced with a lot of chemical inputs.

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On coffee, the President said the future was bright as coffee production had skyrocketed. There is currently a five year upsurge in rainfall which has boosted coffee production. He said coffee bags had increased from two million bags to seven million bags. These rains are both a good and a bad signal.

The rains have kept the coffee bushes watered and increased the shaded area and the coffee is not exposed to direct sunlight except for a few hours a day.

The downside is the price, which has been dropping in recent years. This is bad news as a lot of resources have gone into replanting and poorer farmers cannot afford to maintain a crop that needs so many inputs, but is running at negative cash flow.

At the main Opposition party, FDC, there have been some major changes. Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has crossed to FDC to be close to his ally Col Kizza Besigye.

It is obvious his former party members in DP would find reasons to deny him the party ticket. A number of FDC MPs have opted to retire and others have opted to run on the tickets of ANT, the party founded by former FDC president Mugisha Muntu.

FDC secretary general Nandala Mafabi has said they have 500 candidates, but everyday Parliament is creating new constituencies making it difficult to catch up.

The momentum for some time has been with Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, an Independent MP, who has assumed the mantle of an existing political party NUP, which powers that be never foresaw coming and collecting all disgruntled DP members to its cause.

It is possible DP will have new office bearers after a delegate’s conference, but it should have considered an arrangement other than handing over wholesale its members and the members stating they will come back. Most will face headwinds from NRM and selective targeting by FDC.

There are many questions on the table. The presidential contest is limited to one part of the country. The Opposition will increase the number of MPs, but so will NRM. A few casualties will fall and the country will be ready for another five years for a new term.

Mr Ssemogerere is an Attorney-At-Law and an Advocate. kssemoge@gmail.com