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 By Mulengera Reporters

Information and National Guidance Minister Judith Nabakooba has used her weekly media briefing (today Sunday) to call upon fellow politicians who are campaigning to be elected for electoral office in February 2021 general elections to avoid landing themselves and their supporters into trouble with police by complying with all COVID19-related restrictions the Electoral Commission (EC) has put in place.

She says total compliance is the only way all leaders are going to productively campaign without exposing their people and potential voters to the risk of contracting Coronavirus which is so far officially recorded to have infected 11,443 Ugandans of whom 101 have died as of today Sunday 25th October 2020.

In one day (Saturday), 146 new cases were recorded from those that were tested. Nabakooba says this is indicative that COVID19 “is here with us and it kills.” That on their side as government, they aren’t letting down their guard to become complacent and will continue doing their part to finance and support the implementation of all applicable mitigation measures to placate the population against reckless exposure to the virus.

That besides reducing the cost for those (asymptomatic cases) wishing to voluntarily have themselves tested and acquire a clearance certificate for whatever reason from Shs240,000 per test to Shs185,000; the government also continues to provide free testing and treatment services for all its citizens who manifest COVID-related symptoms.

But for the government mitigation efforts to be sustainable, Nabakooba rightly says, every citizen must play their part by way of wearing their face mask, regularly washing their hands and observing adequate physical distancing each time they go in public and crowded places (to break the spread of the very unforgiving virus from one person to another).

More importantly, Nabakooba says the leaders currently running for elective office at whatever level have even higher obligation to conduct their campaigns in ways that don’t amplify the spread of the virus. This simply means correctly spreading the prevention message besides observing the EC restrictions including ensuring none of their political meetings has more than 70 attendees.

Yet that is not all. The EC Chairman Simon Byabakama has required candidates to closely work with district COVID taskforces and his Returning Officers in the districts to ensure the campaigning venues are well secured which could be by way of fumigating. The candidates also carry the duty to procure enough sanitizers and other hand washing facilities to enhance the security and protection of those coming for their campaigning meetings.

Byabakama, whose requirements Nabakooba guides must totally be complied with by all, also advises candidates to realize this is a scientific election exercise like no other and consider leveraging on online media channels, community radios (ebizindaalo), conventional radios and TVs to propagate their campaigning messages as opposed to planning defiant processions or even large crowds which police will legitimately keep breaking up to the detriment of candidates and their supporters.

Byabakama also warned against use of inflammatory and defamatory language against one’s political opponent(s) while using the media, something Nabakoba emphasized during her Sunday press conference. The bumlicious Minister from Mityana also warned candidates against illegal positioning of their posters whereby pasting the same in ways that obstruct road traffic signs will lead to such campaigning materials being pulled down by law enforcement officers.

Nabakooba, herself campaigning for reelection as Mityana Woman MP against NUP’s Joyce Bagala, also commended KCCA for issuing guidelines relating to candidates’ posters and urged fellow political contestants to comply to avoid being inconvenienced by KCCA in execution of their mandate.

Reflecting on Monday 9th November being the day when official campaigning is to begin up to February 1st, Nabakooba urged fellow contestants against premature commencement of their campaign as the same amounts to breaching the electoral laws which in itself is actionable at criminal law.

The electoral laws create offences and campaigning outside the officially gazzeted time is one of those offences over which police can lawfully crack the whip. Nabakooba lists other electoral offences to include telling deliberate falsehoods, inciting public disorder, hatred and violence. Her Sunday media statement further reveals that hanging posters on electricity power lines is criminal and equally prohibited.

Being the Minister of National Guidance, Nabakoba also used her Sunday press conference to issue a strong warning against head teachers and school owners who tend to charge illegal fees in excess of what UNEB sets as the examination fees for those seeking to register to be candidates for its PLE/P7, UCE/S4 and UACE/S6.

Emphasizing on what UNEB CEO Dan Odongo proclaimed earlier in the week, Nabakooba said the registration fee is Shs34,000 for PLE; Shs164,000 for UCE and Shs186,000 for UACE-and it’s criminal for any school to charge in excess of that. She also called on parents to act vigilantly so as not to be exploited by such unscuplous head teachers.

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