In a carefully drafted speech at his silver jubilee anniversary, the retired Bishop of Masaka, John Baptist Kaggwa has stung the Electoral Commission (EC) over its 2021 elections roadmap that he said is going disenfranchise many Ugandans.
Bishop Kaggwa celebrated his episcopate silver jubilee at Kitovu Cathedral in Masaka before a small congregation that had Buganda Kingdom Katikkiro (Prime Minister) Charles Peter Mayiga, MPs and district leaders from the Masaka sub-region.
“It is unfortunate that I studied Law but never had a chance to practice Law. But this message should go to our policymakers; we need to uphold the values of democracy and at the same time have respect for human rights,” Bishop Kaggwa said in a short speech as he concluded the celebration of the Holy Eucharist mass.
“I heard the EC announcing what they called a scientific election – that candidates will use only the radio and TV to campaign. How will the old women in the villages who find it had to buy batteries for their radio sets get the message? Or if they hear the candidates speak over the radio, how will they put a face to the voice? How do we expect the voters to make informed decisions without seeing or interfacing with the candidates? I believe this is going to disenfranchise many people,” he added.
Since the release of the revised roadmap to the 2021 general elections, the EC has faced criticism from all sections of the Ugandan society with some arguing that its ban on mass political rallies is intended to benefit President Yoweri Museveni who wants to extend his 34-year hold onto power.
Justice Simon Byabakama, the EC chairman, has defended the electoral body’s decision which he says is based on guidelines by health experts in light of the Covid-19 threat.
“I want to propose that we can extend the elections, we should have an extension for about two years; when Covid-19 is gone, and let the people fully enjoy their rights and freedoms,” Bishop Kaggwa said.
The prelate also wondered why the government is reluctant to let traders operating from arcades to open for business.
“I think we are confusing the meaning of the term arcade and a mall. Regardless of how many entry and exit routes each has, the two words mean the same thing. An arcade is to an American what the British call a mall,” Bishop Kaggwa said.
“How do we also explain the idea of keeping arcades locked under the pretext of preventing the spread of Covid-19 when traders in places like Kikuubo and other markets that attract a lot of people are operational?” he wondered.
Bishop Kaggwa was consecrated on June 24, 1995, by the late Bishop Adrian Kivumbi Ddungu and the late Bishop Henry Ssentongo. For three years, he served as a co-adjutor Bishop to Ddungu whom he succeeded three years later in 1998.
He retired last year and was succeeded by his Vicar-General, Rt. Rev. Serverus Jjumba.