The Independent Electoral Commission recently issued a roadmap and guidelines for conducting the 2021 general elections. The issuance of the roadmap and guidelines coincided with a situation defined largely by the Covid-19 pandemic which now shapes almost every decision involving individual and mass programmes. In essence, the 2021 general elections are headed for a “scientific” approach, meaning that they will not be held the traditional way-of holding rallies and generally putting off most rituals associated with electioneering.
As expected, despite the overwhelming rationale and deep consideration of all options available, the opposition has been rattled by the above proposal whose sole purpose is to avoid putting Ugandans at risk to catching the deadly Coronavirus. Their preference is that campaigns are held the traditional way, which way violates the basic prevention measures against Covid-19 chief of which is social distancing (tonsemberera). The problem is that they regard the new measures as intended to disadvantage them and probably think the measures were generated by NRM and planted on the E.C. That guesswork is faulty and false because the E.C has elaborated how they came up with the decision, not forgetting that decisions on public programmes are now guided by principles of science in the face of the killer disease now impacting the whole world. It is not a Ugandan thing alone.
For anyone to attempt to disregard scientific reasoning and to encourage others to do the same is very dangerous and unexpected of anyone who wishes Ugandans well. The world is under siege by the pandemic and nobody knows the trajectory it is taking. The only safeguard is to observe standard operating procedures and safety precautions at all times and elections are no exception. Life is far more important than elections but we are not saying there won’t be campaigns and elections. They will be held but in a way that does not endanger Ugandans.
The opposition politicians are interested in gaining juicy positions while risking the lives of Ugandans. Quite callous!
What is so special about elections that nothing about their form can be modified? How come they didn’t oppose the closure of schools, places of worship, open commercial centres, social gatherings, entertainment centres and national borders? Isn’t the same logic behind the mass lockdown the same behind recourse to scientific engagement in preparation for the 2021 elections?
Ugandans should not heed the cynicism of these self-seekers.
NRM was conducting several activities in the various sub-regions of the country when lockdown measures were announced. Those activities were suspended forthwith. Imagine it was our own principal, President Yoweri Museveni, delivering the “bad” news. Many other sane actors put off their own activities in compliance. The measures have inconvenienced everyone, not just those in politics. And as the president has said before, it is not about convenience but life! Does the cynical opposition believe themselves to be unique or their interest is on elections only?
Under the extraordinary circumstances of Covid-19 which has already disrupted life in totality, that we can talk of going ahead with the elections is a good measure of the temerity of Ugandans and the good planning and ability to re-align programmes by Government, something which opposition is incapable of. And that is partly their problem; they are perpetually unprepared, detached from the masses and unable to come up with realistic ideas to sell to Ugandans. So they want the E.C to do their work for them and Ugandans to “take a bullet for them”, as they say.
There is no amount of ground leveling that will satisfy some of these actors but the affairs of Ugandans are safe in NRM’s hands. Uganda has fought back against Covid-19 and scored incredible results compared to our neigbours and more advanced nations. The opposition wants to dilute this credit by precipitating a mass violation of the guidelines that have kept Ugandans relatively safe so that they make NRM look weak.
On the NRM side, we are prepared for the campaigns and elections anyway and any time they are served. Freeness and fairness come to those who have prepared for the task and at the appointed juncture, Ugandans will still have the leadership they deserve. No one has a right to discourage willing voters and contenders to lose confidence in their power.
Ugandans have, in one way or the other, access to digital gadgets and platforms through which they can be reached. Every part of the country is covered by radio and TV signals. NRM has placed emphasis on ICT development and household income to empower our people to participate fully in national affairs-not just elections-and to keep up-to-date on developments and opportunities abounding near and far.
Ugandans, kindly stay safe and avoid becoming victims of the greed of self-seekers!
#Stayhome #Staysafe #Havesafeelections
The author is a Presidential Assistant in Charge of Media Management
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