The National Resistance Movement (NRM) had issued electoral guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to be followed during the party primary elections for parliamentary flag bearers for position of district woman representatives to Parliament and constituency MPs held on Friday 4thSeptember but none was followed.
The highly chaotic exercise was in 151 NRM districts, 351 constituencies, and 69,075 villages which are also the NRM polling stations.
This comes barely two months after the Uganda Electoral Commission in a revised road map strongly warned that no candidate or political party will be allowed to hold campaigns, processions and any form of gathering.
The other SOPs clearly stated that polling will be by lining up and to be done in the open air and spacious venues that include; playgrounds, public grounds, public roads. ● Election officials and Voters to wash hands with soap. ● Election officials and Voters to wear face masks. ● Counting of voters in the line to be contactless.
However, this wasn’t the case as both NRM party voters and electoral officials; ● Skipped washing hands at the entrance of the polling centers ● Never wore face masks ● Failed to observe the recommended physical distancing. ● It was even worse at the tally centers as the candidates and their agents engaged in violent physical battles against their opponents.
The Uganda Police and the Ministry of Health that are usually very loud in castigating members of opposition political parties with threats of arrest were not surprisingly quiet as all these violations took place. Unfortunately, this gives room to critics that have continued to allege that the NRM government, Ministry of Health and the Uganda Police have politicized COVID19 and are using it to limit the operations of their opponents.
Health experts including Dr. Kizza Besigye and Dr. Ekwaro Ebuku have warned that we could see a surge in cases of COVID19 as a result of the high level of negligence exhibited by those mandated to maintain law and order. They note that it is clear that community transmissions are going to increase leading to many people falling sick at a time when the government is demanding that citizens should pay for COVID19 tests. We look forward to seeing what measures will be taken as the NRM heads into primaries for local council positions as other political parties are also gearing up for party primaries across the country.
The Uganda Police, Ministry of Health, and Resident District Commissioners should for once act professionally and ensure fair and strict application of the set guidelines. Short of this, the country could be headed for more danger and putting at risk the good citizens that might fall victim to the pandemic.