Parliament’s Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs meets with the Electoral Commission.
Thursday 23rd January 2020, the Uganda Electoral Commission led by the chair Justice Simon Mugenyi Byabakama met with the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in which the Electoral Commission was presenting its Budget Framework Paper and briefing the House on its readiness to organize and conduct free and fair elections as per its constitutional mandate derived from Article 61 of the 1995 Constitution.
On financing, the Electoral Commission expressed uneasiness over the budget shortfalls. For instance, its budget for 2019/20220 was short by UGX 298.48 billion as parliament had only appropriated 140.98 billion out of the required UGX 439.46 billion. The Committee was further informed that even the 2020/21 General Elections Roadmap has a budget shortfall of UGX 432.68 Billion and the Electoral Commission argued that “if this budget shortfall is not addressed, it may adversely affect the smooth conduct of elections”. Among the underfunded and unfunded priorities for the Financial Year 2020/2021, there was printing of ballot papers and dispatch of polling kits; Welfare of polling day officials and field supervisors of polling activities.
The Members of Parliament queried whether the Electoral Commission was ready to relocate its headquarters as they are likely to be affected by the construction of the Jinja Express flyover as well as the Standard Gauge Railway projects. The Committee was informed that as per the UNRA work plan for the Jinja Express Flyover, the Uganda Electoral Commission should have vacated Plot 55 Jinja Road by January 2021. However, after negotiations, the Electoral Commission was given up to June 2021 and any delay on the part of the EC is going to cost UNRA estimated UGX 300million per day.
The Members of Parliament led by the National Youth MP Hon. Anna Adeke Ebaju expressed worry that the 2020-21 General election was likely to go beyond the 60 day legal mandate and run as high as 6 months which is not healthy politically but is also likely to increase the cost of political participation.
BY: MUBANGIZI PROSPER