Hotel Africana, Kampala, Uganda.
From November 24-26, 2014, Ugandans from across the country and the Diaspora will convene in Kampala for the first ever National Consultation on Free and Fair Elections. The National Consultation will be attended by over 1,000 citizens and leaders representing the various segments of our society including political parties and organizations, religious institutions, business and traders’ associations, the labour movement, the NGO fraternity, professional associations, academia, women, youth and other citizens grouped in organized formations.
The goal of the National Consultation is to provide ourselves an opportunity for us to deliberate on a wide range of constitutional and electoral reforms needed to strengthen our Nation’s electoral system, strengthen the rule of law and constitutionalism in our country. That we have had major challenges in organizing credible regular, free and fair elections is now a widely accepted fact. That elections have remained a flashpoint for instability, conflict and human rights abuses is not in contention. The National Consultation is our single most important opportunity to challenge ourselves, overcome the past gridlock and unlock our potential to determine our future and destiny where elections become part of a solution rather than a source of conflict or misunderstanding.
The National Consultation is a culmination of a widely consultative and inclusive process that has gone one over the last 5 years. The work that brings us up to this point includes that done under the Citizens’ Manifesto process, the Free and Fair Elections Campaign, the Interparty Political Organization for Dialogue, to mention but a few.
Over the last 2 months, we have convened 14 Regional Forums on Free and Fair Elections. All in all, over 3,000 political, religious, civic and other leaders participated in these Forums from Karamoja to West Nile, to Bunyoro, Kigezi and Teso. In these Regional Forums, we witnessed a rare moment when Ugandans: men, women and the youth put aside their political, religious, professional and other affiliations to engage in a conversation about the future of our country. It is this spirit of love for country beyond our personal affiliations that we hope to bring into the National Consultation.
The Regional Forumshave witnessed an emerging consensus on major constitutional and electoral reform issues. Across the country, participants in these Forums debated and reached consensus on critical reform issues that have previously seemed impossible until now. These include, among others:
• The need to ensure that our political parties have internal democracy for them to act the building blocks for our democracy.
• The importance of ensuring that the Electoral Commission and other constitutional commissions should be constituted through a competitive recruitment process that emphasizes meritocracy and impartiality in doing business.
• The need to ensure effective redistribution of power among the agencies of state and building a strong system of checks, balances and accountability.
• The role of the military in our politics and the need to keep armed forces out of processes that are inherently partisan. .
• The importance of a credible and transparent Voters’ Register that is permanently displayed and available to interested citizens.
• The need to adopt rules that prevent the misuse and/or misappropriation of (public) funds in our elections and other important political processes.
These and many other issues will be debated over the three days of the National Consultation to develop and agree on a package of reforms. The main outcome of the National Consultation is therefore the Citizens Compact on Free and Fair Elections, which will contain this agreement. This Compact will be presented to Parliament for enactment into legislation. We also intend to undertake countrywide mobilization of citizens to support the reform programme that will be contained in the compact.
As Conveners, we believe that after the famous Lancaster Conference of 1961 and the Moshi Conference, this is the most important citizens’ gathering of our times as we look to work together in shaping the future of our country. While the Lancaster and the Moshi Conferences took place outside our country, the National Consultation on Free and Fair Elections is taking place on home ground, which is a manifestation of the progress, however marginal, that we have made as a country.
We approach the organization of this National Consultation with humility and a strong belief that it is “WE THE PEOPLE” that have the duty to create the foundations for sustainable peace, democracy and economic prosperity. We therefore call upon Government, political parties, public sector and private institutions, the civil society and all citizens to support the convening of the National Consultation and ensure its successful outcomes. We are unyielding in our commitment to ensure that the National Consultation is an inclusive process where all voices can be heard. We therefore thank all those who have in one way or another contributed to the convening process.
For God and My Country!
Now again, I will address the matters of civil servants salaries in Uganda. There are still issues with withholding pay for certain groups of society. Like in Kibale District 85 persons we’re affected by this. Electoral Commission is missing money. The good news is that teachers are promised Ush50.000 hike in pay. Last but not least the loans for civil service are back on after been suspended for a while.
In Kibale district there been issues of non-paid civil servant staff. The state hasn’t paid 85. In June it was up to 200 who were affected by the same matter. Human Resources Officer Vincent Kyaligonza says “only 85 out of a total amount of 3200 servants have not been cleared to seek assistance from the CAO’s Office” (ChimpReports, 2014).
The Electoral Commission where recent comments have been made before the next general election in 2016. That Dr. Badru Kiggundu fears this “Salaries for our technical staff have remained stagnant since 1999. This has continued to erode the morale of staff. Through this committee, I appeal to Government for special consideration regarding this dire disparity because increased adjustments were made for all other public servants” (…)”This has put us in a danger of losing our capable and experienced staff and we may not conduct free and fair elections. The commission may not also be able to attract and maintain competent personnel in order to deliver its mandate because of this. In the recent salary revision, increment was only accorded to specified officers and the technical staff was not considered”. The other issue is the budget for the election. Wage bills is set to be sh16.5b this financial year, there is only been given sh8.2b, this means that there is missing sh8.3b. Kiggundu says: “We project to have 30,000 polling stations during 2016 elections and the costs of each voter verification system to be deployed per polling station is approximately $1,000 (about 2.6m) excluding logistics, training, hire of expertise and other concurrent costs” (Kashaka, 2014).
Director of Operation in the Electoral Commission Leonard Mulekwa says: “This is since these councils and committees form electoral colleges for election of Members of Parliamentary and Councillors representing these special interest groups in parliament and local government councils due between February 12 and March 13, 2016” (…)”This period is crowded in the field to permit election activities of Youth, PWDs and older Persons committee to run concurrently and smoothly. Therefore it is logistically prudent to complete these elections before commencing on the presidential and other polls” (Kashaka, 2014).
Certain teachers in the level of Primary school can expect a pay-raise up to 25 % that will be in effect by this month. The lowest pay of a school teacher will now be at shs279.145. Minister of Education Jessica Alupo says: “The increment for teachers’ salaries was provided as promised. The ministry of Finance and Economic Planning factored the increment into the MTEF (Mid-Term Expenditure Framework) where the wage component for primary increased by Shs202 billion from Shs619.68 billion in 2013/2014 to Shs822.07 billion in 2014/2015,” (Nalugo, 2014).
Good News II:
After describing earlier how the government of Uganda suspended loans to their teachers. There is now opened for trade again. Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi says: “The control enforcing a maximum of 50% for payroll deductions per individual will be activated on the integrated personnel and payroll system”. Uganda National Teachers Union (UNTU) Spokesman James Tweheyo says also: “The revision of the policy means a lot to us. Most public officers survive on loans” (New Vision, 2014).
Chimreports – ‘Kibaale Civil Servants Miss July Salary’ (11.08.2014) Link: http://chimpreports.com/?p=2150
Kashaka, Umaru – ‘2016 polls: Kiggundu decries lack of funds’ (06.08.2014) Link: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/658450-2016-polls-kiggundu-decries-lack-of-funds.html
Nalugo, Mercy – ‘Primary teachers’ salaries increased by Shs 50,000’ (06.08.2014) Link: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Primary-teachers–salaries-increased-by-Shs-50-000/-/688334/2409532/-/36j37vz/-/index.html
New Vision – ‘Government lifts ban on salary loans’ (03.08.2014) Link: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/658331-government-lifts-ban-on-salary-loans.html