UGANDA JOINT CHRISTIAN COUNCIL
25 February 2016
Preliminary Report on the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections of 2016
Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) observed the presidential and parliamentary elections that were held on 18th February, 2016 following accreditation by the Electoral Commission. In this Preliminary Report, we would like to share with you an overview of our findings and observations and recommendations dictated by the exigency of the prevailing situation. We are in the process of compiling a Final Report in which we intend to delve deeper into what happened. Once the report is compiled, we shall publish it for the consumption of all the stakeholders. This preliminary report is divided into four parts: (1) Goal and objectives of UJCC’s Election Observation Mission, (2) Methodology and scope of the observation exercise, (3) an Overview of the Findings and (4) our Observations and Recommendations.
2. Goal and Objectives
UJCC involvement in election observation was dictated by the desire to contribute towards building a better future for Ugandans rooted in the idea that the will of the people is the basis of the authority to govern. Our national constitution of 1995 provides that the will of the people on who shall govern them and how they shall be governed shall be expressed through regular, free and fair elections or through referenda. The elections of 2016 provided Ugandans with the opportunity to choose leaders who will govern them for he next five years after the expiration of the term of office of the current leaders in May, 2016.
3. Methodology and Scope of Observation
UJCC observed the nomination of presidential candidates which was conducted on 3rd and 4h November, 2015.UJCC also observed the campaigns to a limited extent and polling, counting and tallying of votes and declaration of results. We trained and deployed a total of 863 observers including about 696 poll watchers. They were equipped with guidelines and checklists to help them in discharging their duties. It is important to underscore the fact that an election is not just about voting, counting and tallying of votes. It is a long process which involves a multiplicity of activities including legislative reforms, the registration of voters, nomination of candidates, campaigns, polling, counting and tallying of votes, complaints handling and declaration of election results. However, the main focus of this report is on the challenges we identified during the campaign period, polling day as well as post‐polling period. We shall address all the aspects of the presidential and parliamentary elections in our Final Report. The following are our preliminary findings and recommendations.
The campaigns were conducted generally peacefully in all parts of the country. This was largely attributed to the harmonization of the candidates’ campaign programmes by the Electoral Commission. There were a few incidents of violence. In a press statement which we issued on 17th February, 2016 we condemned the excessive use of force by members of the security forces which resulted into the death of one person in Kampala and urged them to respect human rights in discharging their duties and to exercise restraint.
3.2 Polling, Counting and tallying of vote
Polling Day, 18th February, 2016 was an historic occasion. We commend the people of Uganda who turned up in large numbers across the country to exercise their right to vote. However, there were some challenges during polling, counting and tallying of votes prior to the declaration of results of the presidential elections by the Electoral Commission on Saturday, 20th February, 2016. The following is an overview of the challenges identified:
3.3 Delayed opening of polling stations
There was inordinate delay in opening of polling stations in some parts of Kampala, especially in Makindye East and Makindye West constituencies as a result of the failure of the Electoral Commission to deliver voting materials in time. The extent of the delay was troublesome. For example at St. Peter’s Nsambya Polling Station, voting started at 12.30pm. At Munyonyo Primary School N‐Z Polling Station in Makindye West Constituency, voting started at 1.00pm. Similar pattern of delayed opening of polling station were also witnessed at Tank Hill Primary School Polling Station and at St. Paul Primary School Nsambya where voting started at 1.30pm. At Kiwuliriza Primary School N‐Z in Makindye East Constituency, voting started at about 2.15pm. And, at Our Lady of Mt Carmel Catholic Church Polling Station in Makindye East Constituency, voting started at 3.00pm
3.4 People failing to find their names on the voters roll
Some people could not find their names on the voters roll. For example, in Rukungiri District our observers noted that at least 13 people in five polling stations could not vote because they were informed that their names were not on the voters roll. Similarly in Kanungu District, there were ten people in 3 polling stations who could not find their names on the voters roll and therefore they could not exercise their right to vote.
3.5 Irregularities During Polling
In some polling stations, election officials assisted voters with disabilities to vote. In Koboko District alone our observers reported 31 such incidents. At a polling station in Amolatar District, our observer reported that polling officials were directing elderly voters to vote for one of the presidential candidates. This sparked protests from the candidates’ agents.
3.6 Malfunctioning of the BBVS Machine
Our observer reported that in Amach Polling Station in Erute South Constituency, Lira District, the BBVS machine failed to identify 10 people even though their names were on the voters reoll. Likewise, in Tukum Polling Station in Dakabela Constituency, Soroti District, the BBVS machine indicated that a lady whose name and photograph were on the voters roll had already voted and yet she had not voted. A finger checked confirmed she had not voted but she was denied the right to vote.
3.7 Postponement of Voting
In Dokolo South Constituency, voting for Directly Elected Member of Parliament was postponed due to a mix‐up in the photos of two of the contestants. At Gaba Trading Gabudyeri Polling Station in Makindye East Constituency, all the four polling stations located in the area did not vote on 18th February, 2016. This was because voters became rowdy and they burnt some voting materials. Our observer noted that the polling materials were not only brought late but were also brought in bits. The observer noted that when the boxes were opened, the ballot papers for the Presidential candidates were missing. At St Denis Secondary Gaba Polling Station where there were seven (7) polling stations, voting was also postponed to 19 February, 2016 due to riots linked to delayed delivery of polling materials.
3.8 Delay in announcement of results by some returning officers
There was inordinate delay in releasing election results at some district tally centres. In at least two districts, namely Kasese and Alebtong, teargas was used to disperse stakeholders who had become angry and were demanding explanation for the delay.
3.9 Lack of transparency in parliamentary election results
In Gulu District, our observers noted that the returning officer declared the winners without announcing the results scored by each of the candidates who contested the parliamentary elections. In the case of one of the constituencies, the declaration was made against a background of alleged ballot stuffing, an allegation we could not verify.
3.10 Failure to account for votes from a large number polling stations
The presidential election results released by the Electoral Commission on Saturday excluded votes from several polling stations. In Jinja District with 233,848 registered voters in 399 polling stations, the Commission received from only 11 polling stations. In Kyenjojo District with 186,538 registered voters in 337 polling stations, the Commission received results from only 60 polling stations. In Kampala with 1,014,294 registered in 1,338 polling stations, the Commission declared results from only 1,176 polling stations. This begs the following questions: (1) Why were votes from the affected polling stations not tallied by the Electoral Commission? (2) Was there results’ transmission system failure in the affected district tally centres to the national tally centre in Namboole? (3) Was it a case of inefficiency and incompetence on the part of the returning officers?
3.11 Voter turnout
There was generally high voter turnout. However from the results published by the Electoral Commission, there was a great deal of disparity in the voter turnout in various districts. Districts which registered very high voter turnout include Buhweju (81.94%), Napak (78.81%), Kapchorwa ((79.92), (Mitooma (73.53%), Kween 77.66%) .Districts which registered relatively low voter turnout include Kampala (46.33%), Amuru (49.88%), Wakiso (50.67%), Nwoya (53.78%), Gulu (54.97%) and Isingiro (55.03%). What influenced the voter turnout? Was it due to inadequate voter education? Was it due to voter apathy, a feeling that voting is a waste of time? Was it the result of political mobilization by the local political leaders? This, in our view, would be an interesting subject of research.
3.12 High number of invalid votes in some areas
According to the report of the Electoral Commission, some districts registered a very high number of invalid votes. Virtually all the districts with unusually high number of invalid votes are from Northern Uganda. The districts concerned include Kaabong (12.63%), Maracha (10.59%), Adjumani (9.81%), Kotido (9.47%), Arua (9.43%), Moroto (8.87%), Kitgum (8.43), Nebbi (8.00%). In our view, the high level of invalid votes is largely attributed to inadequate civic education. But there is certainly more to it. We have noticed from the results of the presidential elections published by the Electoral Commission that in Otuke District, a total of 28,789 people voted for the presidential candidates and were no invalid votes. UJCC personnel observed elections in a few polling stations in Otuke and we have reservations regarding the authenticity of the figure about invalid votes published by the Commission. In our view, this would also be another interesting subject of research.
4. Observations and Recommendations
There were some positive aspects of the presidential and parliamentary elections. First, the exercise of nominating presidential candidates was conducted in a transparent manner by the Electoral Commission. Secondly, the introduction of the National Identity Card, the Biometric Voter Verification System (BBVS) and the Voter Location Slips (VLS) was a step in the right direction. The challenge which our observers noted was that some polling officials did not know how to operate the BBVS machine. In some cases, the machines failed to work properly. Thirdly, voting was conducted peacefully in many parts of the country, except in areas where people rioted due to delayed delivery of polling materials. Fourthly, in most of the polling stations across the country, voting materials were delivered early and voting also began early. However, there were also many shortcomings, as highlighted above.
The arrests and continued detention of one of the presidential candidates, Dr. Kiiza Besigye, at this critical period of the electoral exercise on security ground is a worrying development. We do acknowledge that security is an important factor in any election. However, article 221 of the Constitution of Uganda enjoins the security personnel to ‘‘observe respect human rights and freedoms in the performance of their functions’’.
UJCC notes with concern that Dr. Besigye has been arrested by the security forces about four times since16thFebruary,2016
Every year, Christians come together for Good Friday Celebration of the Public Way of the Cross. This celebration reminds us about the suffering which our Lord Jesus Christ underwent so that we can be reconciled to God the Father.
This Year, on Friday, 3rd April, 2015, the main celebration of the Public Way of the Cross will be held in Nakivubo in Kampala. Christians from all over the City are expected to march from various designated locations within the City beginning at 8.00am and will converge at Nakivubo Stadium for an ecumenical service that will begin at 10.30am. The theme of the Celebration is “Make every effort to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace’’ (Eph4:3).The preacher will be the Archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga.
I would therefore like to take this opportunity to appeal to all Christians in and around Kampala to come for the celebration of the Public Way of the Cross in Kampala in which we expect tens of thousands to participate. We are working hand in hand with the Uganda Police to ensure that law and order is maintained.
Fellow citizens, as we commemorate the Easter Season, we should bear in mind that there are very many challenges facing our people in every sector of life. These challenges range from poor service delivery and corruption in public offices to gender-based violence and political discord. It is our common duty as citizens of Uganda to seek solutions to these problems. In that regard, we would like briefly address ourselves to some of the above challenges facing the country:
Poor quality Education
Education is the key to a secure future. Quality education based on good syllabus and a good environment for learning prepares the learner for the challenges of life by providing knowledge and skills which can be applied to solve various problems. The Universal Primary Education (UPE) is a good policy but the implementation of the Policy leaves much to be desired. Many public schools have shortage of qualified teachers. They also lack basic instructional materials. Besides, many pupils learn on empty stomach. These, coupled with high levels of poverty in many parts of the country, constitute barriers to effective learning, hence poor performance, especially in rural schools where poverty rate is high.
With the above concerns in mind, we would like to urge the Government to review the UPE Policy with the aim of eliminating major barriers to learning. This can be achieved by, inter alia, increasing capitation grant [which is quite minimal] and plugging other loopholes that have affected the smooth implementation of the Policy, notably shortage of teachers and instructional materials. In the same spirit, we would like to urge the foundation bodies to join hands with the school management committees and Parents Teachers Associations to continually engage parents on the importance of prioritizing the education of their children
Corruption is a product of dishonesty. It entails illegitimate use of position of authority or influence to get money or other kinds of personal advantage. It takes various forms such as inflating the cost of goods and services, extorting money as a reward for providing a service which one is paid to provide, and bribing officials in order to get a job, promotion or award of a tender. It is saddening to note that corruption which is major cause of poor service delivery is getting entrenched in the country. Although Uganda has good laws for tackling corruption such as the Leadership Code of Conduct, the Whistle Blowers Act and the Inspectorate of Government Act, the implementation of these laws leaves much to be desired. The Office of the Auditor General issues annual reports showing high levels of corruption in government departments and agencies. These reports are debated by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament but many people who are implicated in corrupt transactions are not brought to book. As result, Ugandans are getting increasingly upset and disappointed. We urge the Government to demonstrate the necessary political will to fight this evil by taking bold action against public officers who are implicated in bribery and abuse of office.
Crime and lawlessness
Uganda’s national motto is “For God and My Country.”The motto serves as reminder that as Ugandans, our thoughts, decisions, actions and the way we respond to situations should always be guided by the values of love and respect for fundamental rights and human dignity. In that regard, we are concerned about increased tendencies of lawlessness among our people as evidenced by successive Uganda Police Crime and Traffic Offences Reports which continue to show a steep rise in cases of violent crimes. For example, The Report of 2014 states that a total of 2,326 homicide cases were investigated in 2013 compared to 1,910 cases in 2012. The report also states that there were 315 incidences of death through domestic violence compared to 154 cases in 2012. According to the Report, the above incidents were linked to family wrangles and acting under the influence of alcohol and resulted into the death of 360 people of which 159 were male adults, 159 were female adults, 36 were male juveniles and 18 were female juveniles. Early this week, Ms Joan Kagezi, a senior government lawyer who was prosecuting terrorism cases was gunned down under unclear circumstances. We condemn her murder and similar incidents of violent crime!
We would like to commend the Uganda Police Force for efforts they are making in containing lawless elements. At the same time we urge the Police to desist from using brutal methods against suspects. It is only by observing the rule of law that the Police can win the confidence of Ugandans as it strives to maintain law and order. We also urge law abiding Ugandans to cooperate with law all enforcement agencies in maintaining law and order and especially in fighting terrorism.
General Elections in 2016
Elections provide opportunities for Ugandans to assert their power by electing their political leaders. Our laws provide for free and fair elections based on the principles of universal adult suffrage and equality of every vote cast. As we approach the next General Elections in 2016, Ugandans expect the Government to heed the demands of Ugandans for electoral reforms. These demands are lawful and legitimate and are informed by discomforting experiences with elections of 2001, 2006 and 2011 that were characterized by disenfranchisement of voters, voter bribery, intimidation, violence and other electoral malpractices.
The Government has acknowledged the need for electoral reforms and has indicated on many occasions that bills for electoral reforms would be tabled before Parliament ahead of the General Elections in 2016. It is a matter of grave concern for us that up this time which is barely five months to the period set by the Electoral Commission for nomination of candidates and campaigns for various elective positions the Government has not yet published the bills on electoral reforms. The delay by the government in tabling proposals for electoral reforms is causing discomfort to many Ugandans. What is particularly discomforting is the fact that the Government has had more than four years to do the necessary groundwork. If we may ask, why is Government taking so long to table proposals for electoral reforms? Are some people in Government sleeping on their job or are those concerned deliberately delaying the process of electoral reforms?
In the circumstances, we would like, once again, urge the Government[as we did in our Christmas Season Message, 2014] to prioritize the publication of bills on electoral reforms so as to give Ugandans reasonable time to discuss and propose changes in the interest of ensuring free, fair and credible elections. In the same spirit, we would like to urge every Ugandan to embrace the challenge of nation building by actively participating in actions aimed influencing the way this country is governed. We call upon every citizen to exercise their constitutional obligation of demanding accountability and using power given to him or her under the Constitution to work for a better Uganda founded on the principles of Unity, Peace, Freedom, Democracy, Equality, Social Justice and Progress. We shall support every legitimate move that is aimed at promoting free and fair elections!
We wish you Happy Easter Celebrations!
Rev. Fr. Dr. Silvester Arinaitwe
This activity took place on 25th June 2015 in Kabale at All Saints Guest House, Kigezi Diocese- Church of Uganda.
- Part VI – Amendment of Chapter seventeen of the Constitution – General and miscellaneous
Proposed Amendments discussed were;
- Part 1 – Amendment of Chapter five of the Constitution – Representation of the people.
- Part II – Amendment of Chapter six of the Constitution – The Legislature
- Part III – Amendment of Chapter Eight of the Constitution – The Judiciary.
- Part IV – Amendment of Chapter thirteen of the Constitution – Inspectoral of Government
- Part V – Amendment of chapter fifteen of the Constitution – Land and Environment
- Part VI – Amendment of Chapter seventeen of the Constitution – General and miscellaneous
We the participants attending the Gender Justice Evaluation Workshop organised by Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) today, 20 March, 2015 at Cardinal Nsubuga Leadership Training Centre, Nsambya, Kampala consisting of representatives of the Ecumenical Joint Action Committees (EJACs) from all member churches of UJCC; representatives of the students’ community and staff of Gulu University, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda Christian University, and Uganda Martyrs University; representatives of sub-county local governments and representatives of community-based data collectors and drama groups from Ogur Sub-county in Lira District, Kaptanya Sub-County in Kapchorwa District, Karusandara Sub-County in Kasese District and Makindye Division in Kampala city.Noting with appreciation the initiative by UJCC to launch the Gender Justice Project in 2014 with the aim of raising awareness about gender-based violence and gender-based discrimination and mobilising the church and communities in various areas to join hands with the government, the churches and other religious bodies in combating these vices,
Further noting with appreciation on-going efforts that are being made by UJCC to build the capacities of EJACs and the students and staff of the target tertiary institutions on issues of gender-based discrimination and gender-based violence including domestic violence, female genital mutilation and sexual harassment in places of employment.
Noting with concern from the Crime and Traffic Offences Report of the Uganda Police Force for the year 2014 that gender based violence is on the increase and noting, in particular. that in the year 2013 a total of 315 incidences of death through domestic violence were investigated by the Police compared to 154 cases in 2012, hence a rise of 51% and also that in 2013, a total of 360 people of which 147 were male adults, 159 were female adults, 36 were male juveniles and i8 were female juveniles died as a result of domestic violence,
Cognisant of the provisions of article 21 of the Constitution of Uganda 1995 which affirms the equality of all persons and prohibits discrimination on the ground of sex, race, colour, ethnic origin, tribe, birth, creed or religion, social or economic standing, political opinion or disability,
Aware of the provisions of article 33 (4) of the Constitution to the effect that women shall have the right to equal treatment with men and that right shall include equal opportunities in political, economic and social activities,
Further aware of the provision of article 33 (5) of the Constitution which provides that women shall have the right to affirmative action for the purpose of redressing the imbalances created by history, tradition or custom,
Cognisant of The Uganda Gender Policy 2007 whose goal is to ‘’Achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment as an integral part of Uganda’s socio-economic development’’,
Considering the objectives of the Uganda Gender Policy which are:
- (1) ‘’To reduce gender inequalities so that all women and men, girls and boys, are able to move out of poverty and achieve improved and sustainable livelihoods’’;
- (2) ‘’To increase knowledge and understanding of human rights among women and men so that they can identify violations, demand, access, seek redress and enjoy their rights’’;
- (3) ‘’To strengthen women’s presence and capacities in decision making for their meaningful participation in administrative and political processes’’; and
- (4) ‘’To address gender inequalities and ensure inclusion of gender analysis in macro-economic policy formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.’’,
Cognisant of the Platform for Action and the Beijing Declaration of the Fourth world conference on women held in Beijing, China on 4-5 September, 1995 which states, inter-alia, that ‘’violence against women’’ is an obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of equality, development and peace and that in addressing violence against women, governments and other actors should promote an active and visible policy of mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies and programmes so that before decisions are taken an analysis may be made of their effects on women and men respectively,
Considering that the Employment Act 2006 and the Employment Act (Sexual Harassment) Regulations 2012 enjoin every employer employing more than twenty five people to put in place and operationalize a policy on sexual harassment, including promoting publicity and establishment of a committee charged with the responsibility of implementing the policy.
Do hereby adopt the following Statement of Principles:
- We affirm that men and women were created in the image of God and that gender based discrimination and gender-based violence is incompatible with Scriptures.
- We reaffirm our commitment to the constitutional principles of equality and non-discrimination on the on the ground of sex, race, colour, ethnic origin, tribe, birth, creed or religion, social or economic standing, political opinion or disability.
- We call upon the clergy and other religious leaders to use the pulpit to spread the message against gender-based discrimination and gender-based violence.
- We call upon women’s groups and men’s groups in the church such as Mothers’ Union, Christian women Fellowship, Women’s Guild, and Fathers’ Union to use existing platforms to promote the campaign against gender-based discrimination and gender-based violence.
- We urge the Government of Uganda to fully implement article 4 of the Constitution which enjoins the State to promote awareness of the Constitution by translating the Constitution into Ugandan languages and disseminating it as widely as possible and by providing for the teaching of the Constitution in all educational institutions and armed forces training institutions and regularly transmitting and publishing programmes through the media generally.
- We also urge the Government to fully operationalize the Domestic Violence Act and the Prohibition of Genital Mutilation Act by, inter alia, building the capacity of local councils who are the key implementers of the Domestic Violence Act and giving sufficient resources to other implementers such as the Uganda Police Force.
- We appeal to all tertiary institutions that do not have a policy on sexual harassment to put a policy in place as per the requirement of the Employment Act and to ensure its full and effective implementation.
- We urge all Ugandans to embrace the campaign against gender-based violence.
- We reaffirm our commitment to the principle of affirmative action which is aimed at redressing historical injustices against women and other marginalized groups.
The Executive Secretary of Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC), Rev. Fr. Dr Silvester Arinaitwe Rwomukubwe participated in a meeting on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in Kenya on 19-20th/02/2015
Though the East African Community, UJCC is asking Kenya and South Sudan to disarm its people in order to have a sustainable leadership of peace and security in the whole region.
Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) is a faith based ecumenical organization that was established in 1963 and registered as a trustee under the Trustees Incorporation Act.
Nsambya East Zone.
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Tel: (256) 414 580088