Kampala. President Museveni has vowed to get rid of the current Electoral Commission which he accused of being corrupt, and said he will replace it with cadres of his ruling NRM party.
“The Electoral Commission is full of rotten people,” NTV, Daily Monitor’s sister media outlet, quoted Mr Museveni telling a women’s conference in Kampala on Sunday.
“I am going to get rid of them [EC]. Why should we suffer with corrupt election officials when NRM has got so much manpower? They should be out.
Get out,” he said during the National Women’s Council conference.
However, in a press statement on Sunday evening, State House did not mention anything about Mr Museveni’s threat to dissolve the EC.
The statement only quoted the President telling women leaders to promote education and economic empowerment.
Mr Museveni’s warning comes on the heels of the defeat NRM suffered in the August 15 Arua Municipality parliamentary by-election which was won by the Opposition despite personally camping there for his party’s candidate, Ms Nusura Tiperu.
In March, Mr Paul Mwiru of the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party defeated NRM’s Nathan Nabeta to claim Jinja East parliamentary seat in a by-election.
In June, NRM’s Winfred Masiko lost to FDC’s Betty Muzanira in the Rukungiri District Woman MP race.
And in July, Mr Asuman Basalirwa, from the Jeema party, won Bugiri Municipality seat, defeating his rivals who included NRM’s Francis Oketcho.
Explaining his party’s electoral defeats, Mr Museveni said NRM lost the Jinja East by-election because the Opposition allegedly ferried voters from elsewhere to Jinja to vote for Mr Mwiru.
He said he had notified the EC about the ‘ghost voters’ on the register but the electoral body did not take action.
In the case of the Rukungiri by-election, where the army and police deployed, Mr Museveni claimed the Opposition transported dare-devil gangsters from Kampala to Rukungiri to intimidate the NRM supporters to keep away from voting on polling day.
On the contrary, the Opposition had accused the President of deploying security forces to harass and intimidate voters to give his NRM party an edge over its rivals.
Mr Museveni also claimed that the Arua Municipality seat slipped out of NRM’s grip because as in the case of Jinja East, there were many strangers’ names on the voters register.
When Daily Monitor contacted the EC spokesperson Jotham Taremwa yesterday, he said the commission “does not take President Museveni’s statements lightly.”
“We appreciate criticisms from all our stakeholders in the electoral process because they help us to follow up with a view of establishing the facts,” Mr Taremwa said.
“And on this very concern [by the President], the commission will investigate it and get to the bottom of the matter,” he added.
During the women’s conference on Sunday, Mr Museveni told his supporters not to ‘kill one another’ whenever they lose elections.
Instead, the President said, they should furnish him with a list of prospective appointees to the public service.
“So, instead of fighting over political positions… get me manpower…so we create the system of the government,” he said, attracting applause from the audience.
For his party to achieve its goals, Mr Museveni said it should have cadres not only in Parliament and district local governments but also in government departments and agencies.
Crispy Kaheru, coordinator of Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy: “Over the past decade, Ugandans have noted a number of electoral malpractices aided by a weak legal and administrative electoral framework.
These happen because the EC is sometimes unable to assert itself, especially in the face of an overbearing Executive. Part of the efforts to realign the EC back to a professional and constitutional course will require restructuring the electoral framework to put in place a competitive appointed, professional and impartial electoral management body that serves the nation first.”
Majid Batambuze, Jinja mayor: “Depending on the evaluation report he has on them, if they have fallen short of his expectations why would he retain them?”
Grace Mary Mugasa, Hoima mayor: “It is the first time I am hearing this and I suspect the by-elections have started frustrating him. However, that [dissolving EC] is not the solution, let him streamline systems, how many commissions will he disband?”
By Daily Monitor