Since the first Ugandan election to the Legislative Council in 1961, no election has delivered a universally acceptable outcome, with the majority being contested in courts of law and sometimes street protests.
Amidst these elections and processes, there has always been one constant, election violence.
According to a new research report done by Women’s Democracy Network (WDN) and Innovations for Democracy Engagement and Action (IDEA), the situation will not be any different in 2021.
83.1% of the respondents said 2021 elections will be violent. The report attributes the violence mostly to male youth. The respondents noted that politicians tend to use the youth to instigate violence against their opponents.
“These young people are paid by candidates due to lack of employment. They will be the main perpetrators in the next elections because they are poor and easy to manipulate,” the report says.
The report on violence in Uganda’s 2021 elections, structures, and strategies for mitigation, was launched yesterday, at Hotel Africana. The research was conducted in 13 districts across the country— Arua, Tororo, Mbale, Mbarara, Kumi, Mukono, Kasese, Jinja, Kabale, Hoima, Gulu, Kampala and Lira.
The report notes: “Youth are given alcohol and most of them act out of the influence of drugs. Young people are ferried to cause trouble from one rally to another, especially boda boda riders and other idle youth.”
The report shows that the Police comes as the second perpetrator of election violence, followed by the National Resistance Movement campaign agents and Ugandan men. The others include a lack of electoral reforms, restriction of activities of opposition political parties, presence of the local militia, Local Defence Unit personnel and unresolved conflicts from the previous elections.
While presenting the report, IDEA director Job Kiija, noted that the five bills on electoral reforms presented by the Attorney General to Parliament are not substantial enough to guarantee peaceful elections in 2021.
He said that the electoral reforms that will help remedy the situation are those that were proposed by the Supreme Court during the Amama Mbabazi poll petition. Other remedies include putting in place youth skilling projects, providing a code of conduct for candidates and fighting bribery.
Lydia Wanyoto, the chairperson of the NRM women’s league, urged the opposition political parties to stop lamenting about violence and prepare candidates who will give President Yoweri Museveni a stiff run for the top seat in the country.
“We would like to compete with well-prepared candidates. As of now, I do not see anyone strong enough to compete against our candidate. I can assure you he is going to win 99% of the votes,” she said