The Electoral Commission of Uganda seems to be in a frenzy as the 2021 General Elections near. They are currently lobbying Parliament and stakeholders to pass Electoral reforms which they argue are for the betterment of electoral democracy in Uganda.
The newest development indicates that the Electoral Commission is planning to increase registration or nomination fees for candidates vying for political office.
Mustapha Ssebagala Kigozi, an official from the Electoral Commission has called for a hike in nomination fees for both presidential and parliamentary candidates, saying the move will be critical at ensuring the elected leaders serve the people not just take up posts to make money.
Kigozi made the remarks in response to concerns raised by women activists over the high fees levied for one to be nominated for a political office during the launch of the electoral commission gender strategy at Imperial Royale Hotel.
While defending his position, Kigozi argued that an increase in nomination fees for electoral offices will ensure that Uganda credible leaders and in his proposal, the fees for presidential candidates should be increased from UGX20M to UGX100M and for MPs from UGX3M to UGX10M, saying the proposal if adopted would be critical at ridding the country of leaders that vie for those positions to make money rather than serve their electorates.
He said, “If honourable isn’t in a position to raise that little money, then he isn’t worth to be called honourable. And if somebody wants to contest as President and can’t raise UGX20M really, would you be worth leading the country? I think we could even raise from UGX20M to UGX100M for the President and MPs it could go to UGX10M in my opinion.”
Kigozi added: “You are going to be honourable, you are going to represent people, you should be in a position to prove yourself worth it first, you invest in yourself first before you look at others. That is at the end of the day when they go there, they go to look for money not serving people.”
However, women activists including former member of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) legislator Sheila Kawamala and Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU)’s head of communication and advocacy, Charity Ahimbisibwe expressed concern that high nomination fees, intimidation and commercialized politics were locking women out of politics.
The development comes at the time the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee is scrutinising the five electoral bills that were tabled by Attorney General, William Byaruhanga.
The Bill tabled include; The Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Political Parties and Organisation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill and the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
However, there have been calls from youths and women activists to have the nomination fees reduced so as to open up space for the special interest groups to take up elective posts from the witnesses that appeared before the Committee.