The Electoral Commission must be fully and sufficiently facilitated in order for it to carry out its constitutional mandate, which is the foundation of democracy, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, has said.
The Deputy Speaker said the Electoral Commission needed no lobbying for support, as the electoral body warned that government had not provided funds to organize and conduct elections in six newly created districts, municipalities and town councils coming into effect on 1st July 2017.
Elections are due in the districts of Namisindwa, Pakwach, Butebo, Rukiga, Kyotera and Bunyangabu, which districts become effective on July 1, 2017.
EC Chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama, Commissioner Hon. Stephen Tashobya and EC Secretary, Sam Rwakoojo today paid a courtesy call on the Deputy Speaker at his office in Parliament Building.
Justice Byabakama said that the EC lacked funds to effectively establish and manage another six district that came into effect on 1st July 2016. Following the general elections in February 2016, elections were held in the new districts of Kagadi, Kakumiro, Omoro and Rubanda, which became effective on July 1, 2016.
“The increased administrative costs in respect of the increase in districts/administrative units are for rent, motor vehicles, fuel and salaries for new staff,” said Byabakama.
The Chairperson said that the EC had been advised to reduce its proposed a wage bill that had been set at UShs 65.6b to cater for increment of staff salaries that have remained unchanged for 18 years.
He also said that the Commission lacked funding for the required continuous voter education; the National Consultative Forum for Political Parties and Organisations; capital development activities; and outstanding domestic arrears amounting to UShs 3.1b.
“I assure you that the new Commission is committed to executing its Constitutional mandate of conducting free and fair elections,” said Byabakama adding that “I appeal for your support in using Parliamentary Appropriation powers provided for in the Constitution to improve the working conditions of the Electoral Commission.”
Deputy Speaker Oulanyah said that the case for full facilitation of the EC is provided for in the Constitution and that no individual or political party would object to the same since the body is mandated to organise and conduct free and fair elections.
“The EC should not have any shortage of money. Am not happy. Whatever we do starts with democracy, free and fair elections and then government is set up,” he said.
Oulanyah proposed a meeting bringing together the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and Ministry of Justice together with the Electoral Commission to try and resolve the issue of funding.