FABIO Uganda consults Busoga journalists, EC on proposed electoral reforms

FABIO programs director Ms Mwanjuzi Loy Egesa speaking to participants during the engagement on electoral reforms in Jinja City on Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Jinja, (UG): The First African Bicycle Information Organisation (FABIO) in partnership with USAID and Uganda National NGO forum on Tuesday engaged journalists and the electoral commission (EC) in Busoga region on the ongoing consultations about constitutional and electoral reforms.

The engagement, held at Ci’ Sand Suites Hotel in Jinja attracted at least 40 journalists from Iganga, Jinja, Kamuli and Bugiri districts aimed at seeking opinions, contributions and appreciation of the proposed citizens’ reforms on constitutional and electoral reforms in the eastern subregion.

During the engagement, participants discussed a number of proposed reforms from the community which include but are not limited to banning any politician convicted of voter bribery, banning any civil servant convicted of corruption, and banning returning officers involved in vote rigging.

Other reforms proposed were; scrapping the line voting of LC 1 chairpersons, having a degree as the minimum qualification for anyone to contest for presidency and member of parliament while others in local government to have diplomas, senior six and senior four certificates.

A section of journalists during the discussion on electoral reforms in Jinja City

However, journalists stressed the need to curtail the big spending by politicians by introducing a campaign monetary control bill citing that it will help in ending the financial demands from politicians that lead them to corruption while in their offices.

They also supported the community proposal to have every poll conducted using a modern method of ballot boxes instead of lining behind candidates.

In response, FABIO appreciated the contribution of media in creating and developing a democratic culture in the country citing that they provide people with information which influences the process of shaping opinions and attitudes and making political choices. They say it’s vital for advocates and activists of any important cause to be on the same page with the media.

“The media are vital for the creation and the development of a democratic culture in any country and they provide people with information which influences the process of shaping opinions and attitudes and making political choices, ” Ms. Mwanjuzi Loy Egesa, the FABIO programs director said.

“Therefore, It’s very important for advocates and activists of any important cause to be on the same page with the media as information from the media to the local populace is considered a gospel truth and people will always give reference to it,” she added.

The vice chairperson of the Human Rights Network for Journalists Uganda (HRNJ) Ms. Jackie Namboga, on behalf of the journalists, said it is deemed necessary for politicians at various levels to have qualifications to run their offices at various levels citing the challenge by a number of politicians in sensitive positions who at times fail to interpret sensitive documents and end up making mistakes which costs their electorates.

“As journalists, we found it necessary for politicians to have qualifications where MPs should have degrees, LCV and Mayors with S.6 certificates, and LC3 with at least S.4 certificates to clearly interpret documents and budgets. This will end corruption where technocrats blindfold politicians and end up swindling money due to lack of knowledge to interpret documents and budgets,” Ms Namboga said.

HRNJ vice chairperson Ms. Jackie Namboga speaking to journalists on Tuesday

The Iganga-based journalist Ms. Tibikoma Amina says the electoral commission at times leave their mandate to security organs attributing it to a number of chaos during elections and urging them to always ensure that incumbents are trimmed of their powers in office before participating in elections.

“Sometimes electoral commission leaves their responsibility to the police and the army, and we beseech them to make changes and avoid chaos that erupts during elections. Some incumbents use their offices and government vehicles during elections, something which is not acceptable and we request EC to have this issue worked on,” Ms Tibikoma said.

Mr Willy Basoga Kadama, a journalist working for Radio Simba urged the EC to always work independently without any external interference like when people elect their candidates and the EC end up declaring others instead of the winners. He adds that police officers who give security during elections should receive serious training before elections.

Speaking to Ms Naigaga Nassim, a journalist based in Bugiri district says they face challenges with security during electoral processes who harass them and she called upon the EC to always believe their teams on how media should be handled during such times.

Jinja City Returning Officer Ms Nekesa Assey speaking during the Tuesday engagement

Meanwhile, the returning officer for Jinja City Ms Nekesa Assey, for the electoral commission refuted a number of allegations that came from journalists like that of declaring the losers instead of the winners something she said is not true. She says that at times, candidates tend to seduce the electoral commission staff to accept bribes in their favor but she however advised them to refrain from it.

“If you know that you have got a large number of votes from the field, why should you attempt to seduce a returning officer in corridors?” Ms Nekesa asked in response to Mr Ssematimba Cloves, the chairperson Kagoma Journalists Association who claimed that EC officials from Jinja district were involved in irregularities during the previous elections of 2021.

She commended a team from FABIO for engaging the media together with the electoral commission, urging them to continue engaging a number of stakeholders in ensuring fair proposals on constitutional and electoral reforms from Ugandans.

Busoga Journalists, Officials from the EC and FABIO in a group photo after the engagement

DailyExpress has learnt that FABIO have met a number of stakeholders about the same including leaders in local government like councillors and they are scheduled to meet members of parliament from Busoga this month of September.

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