Buganda Kingdom Katikkiro (Prime Minister), Charles Peter Mayiga has warned that the Electoral Commission (EC) is likely to get trapped into endless court battles over its 2021 election roadmap that it released without consulting with the relevant stakeholders.
According to Mayiga, the court suits could end up portraying the electoral body as partisan.
In its revised roadmap to the 2021 general elections that the EC released on June 16, the electoral body announced a ban on open-air campaigns and instead, advised all political contenders to utilise digital platforms to reach their electorate.
The move was mainly to ensure that Ugandans practice Social distancing, one of the measures that have been recommended by scientists as ideal for limiting face-to-face contact with others and keeping coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at bay.
Addressing the Buganda Kingdom Lukiiko (Parliament) on Monday afternoon as the kingdom unveiled a Shs 109 billion budget for the 2020/2021 financial year, Mayiga said that the EC would have first engaged political stakeholders before issuing the revised road map.
Several political players have criticised the EC for unveiling the roadmap without consulting them but the commission’s chairman, Justice Simon Byabakama has consistently defended the EC action saying there is no legal requirement for the commission to consult anyone.
Byabakama bases his arguments on Section 12 of the Electoral Commission Act, which mandates the EC to ensure that candidates campaign in an orderly and organized manner. He also emphasizes that the EC has a duty to direct how candidates campaign since it is an independent body obliged to do its work without influence from anybody.
Specifically addressing the argument of the Commission’s failure to consult stakeholders, Byabakama said that the Constitution stipulates that the exercise of the EC functions shall not be subject to the control or authority of any person.
“When we were rolling out the roadmap in 2018, it was the handwork of the Commission as required by the Constitution. When we are revising this road map in the context of the prevailing circumstances, it is the work of the Commission,” he said.
He explained that it was not necessary to consult political parties before releasing the revised roadmap since the political parties even find it difficult to generate consensus for their internal issues.
But according to Mayiga, lack of consultation is likely to portray the commission as partisan yet there is a need for a clear electoral process.