By Spy Uganda
Kampala: The Electoral Commission was been dragged to court for banning open-air campaigns in the run-up to the 2021 general elections. Meaning Ugandans will go to the polls between January and February 2021, to elect a President, Members of Parliament and Local council leaders.
But instead of the usual open air campaigns, the commission suggested that contenders for the various political offices will use different media platforms as the main avenue through which they can reach the electorate. This is in line with the Ministry of Health guidelines that prohibit mass gatherings in the wake of the novel coronavirus.
A day after the roadmap was unveiled, Ugandan journalist-pastor Joseph Kabuleta wrote to the Electoral Commission demanding a meeting with key stakeholders like the political parties regarding the most appropriate ways of conducting elections during the COVID -19 pandemic. He demanded that the meeting be held in two days to avoid a court battle which failed and ended up taking matters to court
Now the Electoral Commission has asked the High Court to throw out a case saying that the application is misconceived, frivolous, vexatious, incompetent, untenable at law, a waste of court’s time and ought to be dismissed with costs to the respondent,” the Electoral Commission said in its response through an affidavit sworn by Sam Rwakoojo, the EC secretary.
According to the election body, the case has not shown court that there is reason to justify the grant of the application.
“The application is an abuse of court process on account of the applicant’s failure to exhaust existing remedies available within a public body as required by law.”
The Electoral Commission in their response say that the revised roadmap was issued in accordance with the prevailing pandemic situation or circumstances as they cannot speculate on what the future is likely to be.
According to their reply, the election body explains that the roadmap has got specific segments which by law require statutory instruments, guidelines or notices to be published in the gazette each at an appropriate time.
“The respondent recognizes the Constitutional right of citizens to vote and choose their leaders as well as the duty to facilitate the exercise. The respondent Is further mindful of the need to ensure a healthy and safe environment for all stakeholders during the electoral process, including campaigns, voting and declaration on results,” the EC avers.
“The allegations of the applicant that citizens of Uganda have no proper access to the media, television, radio and internet are false. There are regulatory agencies in Uganda made to monitor and licence the media and promote access to public media. Access to media is a continuous growth process that keeps changing with the advancement of technology all the time.”