Uganda News

The price of petitions for elections

Brenda Nabukenya, the Luweero Woman MP, will recount the story of the road to electoral fairness for the rest of her life.

From elections to election petitions, both parties are battling to keep their seats or overturn the results of the January ballots.

Those who have already been there, however, are advising petitioners to expect a bumpy journey, claiming that the road to electoral fairness is a long one.

Brenda Nabukenya, the Luweero Woman MP, will recount the story of the road to electoral fairness for the rest of her life.

Between 2011 and 2016, Nabukenya fought three petitions: one challenging her general election victory, another challenging her candidacy, and a third challenging her name.

She ran in four elections during this time, two by-elections and two general elections.

Nabukenya told NBS TV that he used to travel to court four times a week while also having to be in parliament.

Nabukenya bemoans the emotional and financial strain that the petitions have caused.

“For the four years I was in court, I spent close to Shs 120 million. I won one petition, lost three petitions, and had to pay all costs.”

Not only politicians, but also the institutions responsible with dispensing justice, are under financial duress.

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The judiciary has set aside Shs 1.2 billion to cover the judges’ expenses and lodging during the ongoing election petitions.

In addition, according to Jameson Karemani, a spokesperson for the judiciary, 30 judges have been assigned to handle electoral petitions for the next two months.

What is at stake for others seeking justice in non-election situations while they are away?

“This has come at a cost to other cases, some of which were assigned to those judges for fixed hearings. “A judge was expected to dispose of 20 cases on average every two months,” Karemani said.

For this fiscal year, the Electoral Commission has set aside Shs 2 billion to deal with by-elections.

According to Paul Bukenya, a spokesman for the Electoral Commission, the legislation requires that vacancies in local government and district government be filled within six months and 60 days, respectively.

“Funding is determined by the size of the electoral territory… whether it is a city, a district, or a tiny constituency. A by election costs roughly Shs 300 million on average, according to Bukenya.

Beyond what meets the eye in electoral petitions, suspicions of political meddling and bribes are unavoidable.

Judge bribery and political meddling, according to Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, are factors.

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