Leaders ask govt to abolish electoral college in youth MP polls

Youth leaders address journalists in Kampala on May 26, 2023. PHOTO/BUSEIN SAMILU

A section of youth leaders from various political parties and Civil Society Organizations have called upon the government to abolish the college voting system used during the election of their regional members of parliament.

The Youth Members of Parliament are elected by the youth councils which constitute the Electoral College.

The electoral college of the youth is composed of members of the district youth conference, the five executives of each county and the two delegates; male and female of the sub county to the district council. The Electoral College has between 800 and 900 voters per region depending on the number of counties and sub counties in a district. This contested voting system was introduced in Uganda in 1993.

Speaking to journalists on May 26 in Kampala, youth leaders said this system has led to election of incompetent leaders since the approach is marred by corruption. 

“Only a few youths who form the college vote for youth MPs -that is 11 members of youth committees from every district for a college for the election of regional youth MPs. Given their numbers, they are susceptible to manipulation and hence can’t represent the position of the majority of the youth. The system also denies majority youth backup to hold the elected leaders accountable because of the fact that they did not directly vote for them,” Derick Namakajo, the Ag. Chairperson of the Inter-party Youth Platform (IYOP) explained.

Ivan Kibuuka, the programs officer at African Youth Development Link (AYDL) said: “We want these youth elections to be organized on the same day of the presidential and parliamentary polls because these are members of parliaments representing all youths, not the few who elect them.” 

For Nelson Agaba, the National Youth Coordinator for the Alliance for National Transformation, the youth parliamentary polls format undermines credibility of their outcome.

The PWDs youth leaders who were represented by Florence Ndagire, the legal officer at Show Abilities Uganda, proposed amendments to the National Youth Council Act to allow direct youth elections with the aim of amplifying youth voices in electoral democracy.

“They should also amend the Parliamentary Elections Act with respect to youth MPs and PWD elections to align it with the universal adult suffrage system,” she said.

Meantime, the youth leaders have also asked parliament to review the high nomination fees for Parliamentary and Local Government candidature. 

“The provision for the nomination fee of Shs3million is too high to be afforded by ordinary PWDs and youth aspiring to be nominated as a candidate for a Parliamentary election. This hinders youth and PWDs' inclusion in the electoral process. The provision also contravenes Article 32 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda. Affirmative action was not considered when the said nomination fee was provided for under the Parliamentary Elections Act, 2005,” Namakajo noted. 

The youth also raised alarm on other electoral issues including the limitation of accurate statistics on persons with disabilities, the shortfall in the general dissemination of voter education, absence of sign language interpreters for communicating with persons with hearing impairment, Limited accessibility to venues for registration, update, and display of the NVR, nomination, and polling of PWDs and PWDs’ inclusion in Political Parties/Organizations structures.