2021 Elections hang in balance over shs518b funding

EC Chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama

As the 2021election period draws closer, Electoral Commission (EC) officials have revealed that the institution is still grappling with a funding gap to the tune of sh518.9b.

The EC chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama and the secretary-general of the commission, Sam Rwakoojo, assured MPs that unless the sh518.9b is availed this financial year, there is a big likelihood that there will be no elections in 2021.

Electoral Commission officials were appearing before Parliament’s committee on legal and parliamentary affairs yesterday.

“To have elections, we have to first display the voter’s registers. However, we have no money to pay the sub-county and parish supervisors. Therefore, unless we display the voter’s registers, we can’t have a legitimate election because the voters may or may not be in the right place to vote,” Rwakoojo said.

This sent a shockwave through the MPs on the committee, chaired by west Budama South MP Jacob Oboth Oboth, who asked the EC officials to elaborate because the finance ministry had for long, kept on saying they disbursed funds to the commission.

Byabakama said: “The available funds can only take us up to the nomination of candidates for presidential and parliamentary elections period and after that, there would be no money for other activities such as printing of ballot papers,” he said.

The Government released sh140b to the EC this financial year leaving a funding gap of sh298.5b and an additional sh220.4b unfunded gap in the proposed 2020/2021 budget.

This amounts to sh518b that the commission needs as a lump sum so as to fully plan the election road map and execute its constitutional mandate.

Activities such as voter verification, registration, voters register display, voter education, providing training to all EC personnel are some of the EC preparatory engagements ending this year in August and September with the nomination of all candidates.

The unfunded general election activities include ballot paper printing, dispatch of polling kits to the districts; proofreading of the ballot papers and supervision of printing and packing of ballot papers, declaration forms as well as welfare for polling day officials.

In the financial year 2020/21, which is the third and final phase of the 2021 general election roadmap, the commission also seeks to urgently relocate its office from its present location to Bugolobi at a cost of sh72b before the general elections.

Previous articleKayunga Imam is charged with Carnal Knowledge and remanded
Next articleArmy seeks shs16b to safeguard President during Elections
Patrick Luwagga is the editorial director of cross-platform content for UGANDANZ. He works across the newsroom and with business partners to drive and develop ambitious editorial projects that include digital journalism, video, data research, polling, live events, and thought-leadership series that are supported by outside underwriting. As executive director, he is responsible for the creation of Political news section, prior to joining UGANDANZ, Patrick was the chief editor for the national weekly news magazine of Kasese Times. In that role, he covered several presidential elections, wrote and produced two television documentaries, and was a regular commentator on television and radio news programs. Patrick was born in Masaka and grew up in Kasese. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Makerere University where he was a Knight Foundation journalism fellow.