Acts of violence and other electoral irregularities were reported at various polling stations across the country as Ugandans elected division mayors and councillors.
As was the case with the recently-concluded mayoral and district chairperson elections, yesterday’s elections were also characterised by low voter turnout.
Elections cancelled in Mbale, Lugazi
In Mbale, drama ensued in Moni Ward in the Industrial Division when a fight broke out among supporters. Police used teargas to calm the situation.
Also, voting for women councillors at Nauyo Primary School Polling Station in Industrial Division was cancelled due to mismatch of symbols and names of candidates on the ballot papers.
The presiding officer, Ms Grace Nabude, said the anomaly forced them to cancel the elections. “The ballot papers had errors and so we had to cancel voting here,” she said.
The race for Industrial Division mayor attracted several candidates including the outgoing NRM chairperson of Mbale District, Mr Muhamoud Masaba, Mr Allan Makweta (National Unity Platform (NUP) and Mr Khalid Massa (Forum for Democratic Change). Others are Independents Fred Kuranga, Robert Mukamba, Moses Kisolo, Ishaka Massa and Joyce Matuka Kidulu.
In Lugazi Municipality, the exercise was halted at two polling stations and the presiding officers arrested after they were found with pre-ticked ballot papers in favour of the NRM candidate.
The affected polling stations are Kololo and Moneko, both in Kawolo Division.
Mr Patrick Mwondha, the NUP flag bearer in the Lugazi Mayoral race, said they found pre-ticked ballot papers at Moneko Polling Station.
“By 7am, boxes were already full with ticked ballot papers, we tasked the presiding officer to explain how this had happened and he told us that he received orders from ‘above’ to tick the ballots in favour of the NRM candidate,” Mr Mwondha said.
Ms Ann Mary Tusingwire, the Buikwe District returning officer, declined to comment on the matter. “I have heard about it, but I cannot comment on anything now because I have not yet confirmed it,” Ms Tusingwire said.
Mr Robert Kalyesubula, the acting Ssezibwa regional police spokesperson, confirmed the arrests.
“We got information from electoral polling constables after discovering that there were already pre-ticked ballot papers in boxes before the start of the exercise, we swiftly responded and arrested two presiding officers,” he said.
Four people are contesting for Lugazi Municipality mayor and these include the incumbent mayor, Mr Deo Mwesigye (Ind), Mr John Bosco Aseya (FDC ), Mr Baker Ssali (NRM) and Mr Patrick Mwondha( NUP) .
Low voter low turnout
Just like Mbale, several polling stations visited by our reporters also suffered a low voter turnout.
In Tororo, many polling stations recorded less than 100 voters by 12pm.
For instance, at Uganda College of Commerce Tororo Polling Station, only 10 voters had turned up by 11am.
Some of the voters claimed that the outcome of the last elections never pleased them.
“We voted for our candidates but the Electoral Commission (EC) instead declared candidates of their choice,” Mr Eric Opolot, a voter, said.
The situation was the same in Kapchorwa Town. Polling officials with smart phones were on social media since they had no voters to attend to.
In Apac, there was low voter turnout at various polling stations. All the five polling stations visited by our reporter had recorded less than half of the total number of registered voters.
At Bama Community School Polling Station in Arocha Division, there are 873 registered voters but only 156 had cast their votes by midday.
At Maruzi Seed School Polling Station in Akere Division, of the 622 registered voters, 245 voters had voted by 1pm.
At Amwonika Trading Centre Polling Station in Agulu Division, of 213 registered voters, only 61 had voted at 1pm.
Mr George Aryangi, a resident, said: “Many people don’t consider local government elections as something important, they just consider presidential and parliamentary elections yet local government elections are as important as those ones.”
In Gulu, materials were delivered to polling stations early but polling could not start the exercise as voters were absent.
Voters transported to polling stations
Ms Alfred Oluba, the Gulu East mayoral candidate, said voters were demanding for money before they could get to the polling stations to vote.
Mr Isa Muhammad Nyombi, a boda boda rider at Juba Market Stage, said a councillor contesting in Lira City East Division asked him to “mobilise” and transport voters to the polling station.
“I am helping him carry his voters to the polling station. I have so far carried four people to cast their votes at Senior Quarter B-Z. My brother only fuelled my motorcycle so that I could help him carry his voters from their homes to the polling station,” he said.
Mr Denis Obwol, a boda boda rider at Cuk Aloi Stage, said candidates have turned to transporting their voters to the polling stations to win their vote.
“I have been paid Shs15, 000 and given fuel for Shs10,000 to carry voters from their homes to the polling stations from 9am to 5pm,” he said.
Mr Obwol added: “It is the only way to get voters to the polling station because they are not interested to walk to the polling station and cast their votes.”
Ms Philomena Akite, a polling agent at Senior Quarters ‘A’, said: “People are reluctant to walk to polling stations and cast their votes.
During the presidential and parliamentary elections, we had 129 who cast their votes from here of 442 registered voters. However, during the elections for the LC5 chairpersons, only 77 people turned up to cast their votes and I am not sure of how many will turn up today.”
Mr Daniel Alyela, who is seeking to represent Ongura Ward in Lira City East Division, said transporting people is the only option they have to get voters.
Mr Oscar Ongom, the chairperson of Barogole Ward, who is also a boda boda rider, said they were being paid according to the number of voters they would carry to vote for a particular candidate.
“I have so far ferried 38 people to the polling stations since morning. Where are you so that I come and take you to your polling station if you have not yet voted?” Mr Ongom said.
He added the voters would also demand to be paid between Shs1,000 and Shs2,000 to vote for a candidate.
Mr Ambrose Odongo, a resident of Jinja Camp in Lira City West Division, said: “My neighbours either go to their workplaces or remain home because they don’t feel the importance of these lower council elections.”
Lira City returning officer Rashid Asake could not deny or confirm that candidates were hiring boda bodas to ferry their supporters to the polling stations.
“This is an urban centre where people use boda boda for transport; therefore it is very difficult to tell if those going to vote are being ferried by candidates to the polling stations,” he said.
On the issue of low voter turnout, he said voting is a choice. “Therefore, we cannot force people to go and vote, but it’s up to them to decide since voting is their constitutional right to choose their leaders.”
The exercise in the central region was also characterised by low voter turnout, although with a few reported irregularities.
At Bata Cell Polling Station in Masaka City, where one of the contestants of Nyendo/Mukungwe mayoral seat Denis Majwala cast his ballot, only 30 people had voted by 11am.
Voting in some parts of central region started late as the exercise was disrupted by the downpour that lasted between four to five hours in some places.
The most affected areas were Masaka City, Wakiso, Mukono, Kampala, Lugazi , Njeru and Entebbe .
In Mukono, voting came to a standstill at many polling stations due to the heavy rain.
At polling stations such as Butebbe A-M, Butebbe N-Z, Kikooza B, Nabuti, voting started at 11am due to the rain and late delivery of election materials
Missing ballot papers
In Nansana Municipality at St Joseph Primary School Polling Station, voting materials arrived at 6am, but ballot papers meant for Women councillors were still missing, forcing polling officials to return to Wakiso District EC offices to rectify the problem.
“It’s coming to midday but the voting materials are not yet here, people in other areas such as Nabweru, and some parts of Nansana have already started voting,” Mr Andrew Kasule, a voter, said.
The Wakiso District returning officer, Mr Tolbert Musinguzi, said there was a mismatch on ballot papers of women councillors for Nansana Municipality. The anomaly was rectified later.
In Soroti, a number of division city councillors are up in arms over the missing ballot papers, which made it impossible for them to be elected.
Mr Nanji Morhshid, an FDC candidate, said the EC told them that the election will only be done when the missing ballots are delivered some other day.
“We shall live on to wait, but we had incurred expenses on this, paying agents,” Mr Morhshid added.
Mr Charles Egimu, the area returning officer, confirmed that the ballot papers for directly-elected councillors in Soroti City and Kumi municipality were missing. “At an appropriate time, the elections for those affected will be conducted,” he said on the phone.
By press time at 4pm, no major incidents had happened in mayoral elections in Ankole Sub-region. However, in Kabale nine people were arrested over allegations of voter bribery.
Voting for Mbarara Division mayors; Mbarara City North and Mbarara City South started on time. Mbarara City South Division mayoral seat attracted four competitors. They are Jomo Mugabi (NRM), Godon Byekwaso (Ind), Mr Quraish Segawa (NUP) and Mr Benon Tumuhairwe (FDC).
There were six people competing for Mbarara City North Division mayoral seat. They included Guma Kyabwisho (NRM), Mweteise Bintabara (ANT), Godfrey Ayebazibwe (FDC) and Naboth Ainemani (NUP) and Independents Benon Mugume and ones Asingwire.
“The voter turnup this time is higher compared to the election for city mayor [held on January 20],” Mr Asapha Mwesigwa, an agent at Butagatsi Polling Station in Kyamugorani ward, told Daily Monitor.
At Makenke Polling Station in Kakiika Ward, there were many voters camped around waiting for counting on votes at around 2.30pm.
At Rukungiri Taxi Park Polling Station in western division, only 50 people of 383 registered voters had cast their vote by 10am. At Rukungiri Town Council Primary School Polling Station in Eastern division, only 45 of 644 registered had cast their vote by 11.15am.
Three people were battling for the Rukungiri mayoral seat. They include Darius Tweyambe (Ind), Charles Makalu (FDC) and Geoffrey Kenzigye (NRM). Rukungiri Municipality has 13,000 registered voters.
Five agents of the FDC party flag bearer for Kabale Municipality, Mr Richard Muhanguzi, and four agents of the incumbent Mayor Mr Byamugisha Sentaro (Ind) were on Monday morning arrested over involving in voter bribery.
Kabale District police commander Brian Ampeire said the accused persons were arrested from different polling station.
“The accused persons are recording statements as the police investigations continue. Otherwise the voting process is normal as we have not had any serious electoral offenses being committed,” Mr Ampeire said.
Six candidates were contesting for the Kabale mayoral seat and they include, Ambrose Owamani (Ind), Sam Kanyamukiza (UPC), Wilson Mbabazi (Ind), Mr Paul Birungi (NRM), Richard Muhanguzi (FDC) and the incumbent Mr Sentaro.
The presiding officer for Central East polling station in Kabale Town, Mr Epafra Beinamaisho, said only 50 people of 227 registered voters had cast their votes by midday.
Compiled by Perez Rumanzi, Alfred Tumushabe, Robert Muhereza, Milton
Bandiho, Ronald Kabanza, Elly Karenzi, Rajab Mukombozi, Jonan Bainimugisha, Leonard Mbishinzimana, Bill Oketch, Isaac Otwii, Patrick Ebong, Simon Peter Emwamu, Joseph Omollo, Michael Woniala, Fred Wambede, Cissy Makumbi, Suzan Nanjala, Geoffrey Bill Oketch, Isaac Otwii, Patrick Ebong, Santo Ojok, Michael Woniala, Jessica Sabano, Cissy Makumbi, Geoffrey Okot Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, Wilson Kutamba, Eve Muganga, Barbra Nalweyiso, Derick Kissa, Denis Edema & Joseph Kiggundu