NRM Polls: Entry into Sembabule Restricted

Aine Sodo's supporters in a procession with an ambulance the President's brother donated.

Travellers to Sembabule district may require a special pass to go past various security checkpoints that have been erected on all major roads leading into the district.

This is one of the precautionary measures that have been adopted to avert violence ahead of Wednesday’s elections for NRM parliamentary flag bearers in Mawogola North and Mawogola West constituencies.

Foreign Affairs minister, Sam Kutesa’s daughter Shartsi Musherure Kutesa, President Yoweri Museveni’s brother, Godfrey Aine Kaguta, and Salim Kisekka are the candidates for the NRM flag in Mawogola North while MPs, Anifa Bangirana Kawooya (Woman) and Joseph Ssekabiito Kitayimbwa (Mawogola) are competing for the NRM flag in the newly created Mawogola West.

The checkpoints are manned by both police and army officers who require anyone entering the district to identify themselves with a national ID. In some instances, the security officers recorded particulars including the national identification number (NIN) of visitors to the district.

Ezekiel Ssekweyama, a journalist with Uganda Radio Network, a Kampala based news agency witnessed as the security officers turned away a woman whose national ID showed that she is a resident of Mbarara.

Rival camps have been trading counter-accusations of ferrying people from outside the district to participate in the elections which have so far been twice postponed.

To eliminate the possibility of outsiders from taking part in the polls, NRM electoral commission chairman, Tanga Odoi has decreed that all voters will be required to present their national IDs at the polling stations before being allowed to line-up behind candidates of their choice.

In a meeting with the candidates on Tuesday evening at Sembabule district headquarters, Odoi moved to midday, the time polling stations will open.

To eliminate possibilities of multiple voting, Odoi said, all voters will line-up at once behind their preferred candidates or candidates’ agents.

VOTER BRIBERY

There are reports of widespread bribery of voters across the two constituencies. Journalists witnessed as some candidates’ agents paid voters.

“In the villages, locals are being promised Shs 20,000 each, and a deposit of Shs 10,000 is made with a promise of paying the balance after the elections. Whoever receives the cash deposit has to provide their national ID details,” a journalist who preferred not to be named told The Witness.

 The value for each vote in trading centres like Sembabule Town Council is twice as much. Some locals have been seen receiving as much as Shs 40,000.     

According to Kisekka, one of the contestants in Mawogola North, the bribery is mostly from Musherure’s camp.

“We have often interfaced with them bribing voters and we are also asking voters to eat the money but vote wisely. We have regularly asked the NRM electoral commission to reign in but all in vain, but the voters are going to solve the problem with results,” Kisekka said.

Musherure’s chief campaigner, Charles Muwanguzi, denied the allegations which he described as baseless rumours crafted and spread by their opponents to discredit his candidate.

Aine Kaguta has also distanced himself from any form of malpractices arguing that the only money he has released is going to pay his polling agents. 

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