WITH national elections at all political levels hardly a year away, the Democratic Party (DP) has admitted that a political contest between opposition and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) is a risible mismatch without parliament enacting the mooted electoral reforms.
Citing the recently concluded LC5 Busia by-election, DP Secretary General, Mathias Nsubuga, told the media yesterday that under the current legal regime and an uneven political playing field, “the opposition is taking on a state machinery and not NRM.”
The Bukoto South legislator said that security forces and other organs of the state he contends ought to be neutral under Uganda’s electoral laws “have literally become appendages of NRM.”
“We cannot compete against NRM because the ruling party and the state are fused. NRM activities are held at State House and its activities funded from state coffers. We are competing against a state and not NRM,” Nsubuga said.
Nsubuga blamed opposition loss in Busia a week ago to what he labeled as ” Electoral Commission (EC) and state machinery doing the bidding of NRM,” claiming, without adducing evidence, that the top echelon of the EC met President Yoweri Museveni at his country home in Rwakitura days before the polls.
“How can you expect impartiality from such a body?” Nsubuga asked, describing the entire Busia by-election as “fraud.”
Parliament is expected to pass a whole raft of amendments to Uganda’s electoral laws with a Cabinet sub-committee headed by Gen. Moses Ali working on the executive’s position.
Among the amendments to the electoral laws that the opposition are pushing for is creation of an independent EC and removal of the military from parliament and electoral process.
EC Spokesperson, Moses Talemwa, however knocked back accusations of EC partiality saying the electoral body’s leadership is at liberty to meet any stakeholder in an election including Museveni.
“Why is it okay to meet Norbert Mao, Dr. Olara Otunnu and Gen. Mugisha Muntu but bad to meet the President? The President is a stakeholder and meeting him does not make EC partial,” Talemwa said.
NRM Spokesperson, Karooro Okurut, declined to comment about Nsubuga’s assertions, saying, “contact Ofwono Opondo,” her deputy. Opondo, despite repeated calls couldn’t take our calls.
The issue of NRM using State House and allegedly drawing funds from state coffers to fund its activities has proved a bone of contention with the opposition over the years.
Reacting to similar accusations in the run up to the NRM delegates conference late last year, Opondo told the media that the party uses funds generated internally from its members. One such source is monthly contribution by NRM legislators.
However, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Wafula Oguttu, contends that monthly contribution by NRM MPs is insufficient to fund NRM’s numerous meetings.