WE AREN’T POSTPONING 2021 POLLS OVER CASH
By Samuel Kamugisha
Uganda’s Electoral Commission (EC) has spoken out on reports that it was considering postponing the 2021 general elections after government failed to avail funds for the exercise. For weeks now, the EC, Parliament and the Finance Ministry have been locked in talks over the funding of next year’s elections.
Although the EC had asked for Shs868bn for the polls, government said only Shs357bn was available, leaving a funding gap of over Shs510bn. Finance Minister Matia Kasaija had even advised the EC to cut its budget while other ministry officials revealed government would borrow to meet the election cost.
The controversies surrounding the funding of next year’s polls had thrown the elections into a state of uncertainty, with some fearing the polls would be postponed or done away with altogether. But EC’s deputy chairperson Aisha Lubega has assured Ugandans elections will happen as planned.
“Parliament has made it clear that EC will get the funds for the elections,” Lubega told participants during a regional workshop for stakeholders on the display of the updated national voters’ register and registers for special interest groups, held in Kampala on Friday. Some attendees, majority of them youths, People with Disabilities (PWDs), the elderly and women, at the workshop raised concerns over the certainty of the election.
But Lubega said she was largely optimistic the “progressive discussions” and “good conversations” EC officials were having with the Finance Ministry would resolve the matter of election funding. “From the discussions so far, there is nothing like thinking the elections will not happen,” she said.
“There was a delay but we are now in position to do the work we are supposed to do.” Indeed, the EC’s seven commissioners have today been meeting stakeholders in the 12 regions of the country, with more workshops on voters’ register display expected on February 10. The Kampala workshop included participants from the districts of Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono and Buvuma.