Mr Badru Kiggundu, chairman of Uganda’s Electoral Commission, recently unveiled the Commission’s Strategic Plan and Road Map for 2016 elections in which it estimates that Shs1.2 trillion is needed for the elections. According to Kiggundu, democracy is expensive and so we should be appreciative if we spend that money to get a democratically elected government. Money alone will, however, not give Uganda a credible democratic election. In the past three elections, a lot of money was spent, but with mixed or negative results. The presidential elections in 2001 and 2006 ended up in the Supreme Court when the loser, Dr Kiiza Besigye, challenged the results that gave President Museveni the victory. On both occasions, the Supreme Court ruled by a split vote in favour of the incumbent but did not deny that the elections were short of being free and fair, given the intimidation, irregularities and open stealing of votes.
In the 2011 election, the three –time loser, Dr Besigye, did not go to the Supreme Court because he had lost confidence in it, given its past rulings.
Featuring high in both the presidential and parliamentary elections from 2001 to 2011 has been the gross incompetence of the Electoral Commission. The Commission has also been accused of bias and pandering to the ruling party, an accusation they unconvincingly deny.
Also, a lot of people with dodgy qualifications found themselves elected MPs and the number of parliamentary elections overturned by law courts has been staggering. The question is whether a Commission that has been lambasted by the public and the courts for incompetence and one that is inherently partisan has the moral authority to claim that it can deliver a credible election, come 2016.