By Peter Ogwang
I have read reactions of some people, including lawyer Ssemakadde, on the proposed scientific elections by the Electoral Commission (EC) with dismay.
First, neither the EC nor Government has said this is cast in stone and that it must work this way.
This is a working method given the special circumstances that we are all aware of.
Secondly, the laws under Sections 21 and 20 of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Acts, respectively, provide for the Commission to determine the manner and period in which election campaigns maybe held.
Therefore, electronic or online/virtual campaigns are some of ways in which campaigns can be held on grounds of public safety.
The same laws also allow candidates, during the campaign period, to publish campaign materials in the form of books, booklets, pamphlets, leaflets, magazines, newspapers or posters intended to solicit votes from the electorate.
Neither the EC nor Government has said this is cast in stone and that it must work this way.
All these are different avenues for a scientific campaign or elections which should be explored.
Thirdly, statistics from UCC indicate that 90.5 per cent of Uganda’s population have access to radios and this means that with or without Covid19, media are still an effective, less costly means of mass communication for candidates to reach out to the masses.
I am not sure if there is any presidential candidate who can reach out to 65,000 villages in this country without the help of the media.
Colleagues at parliament will tell you I have been physically rare but effectively available via Zoom participating in representation of my people of Usuk and executing my cabinet roles.
There is no law that says we should work this way at Parliament; we neither went to the Judiciary to adapt to this new normal.
All these efforts are geared towards public safety before everything else.
Of course, I agree that the EC’s proposals will meet challenges, given the adoption of ICT in the country.
However, this is not a hindrance but rather an opportunity for us to collectively lobby for more investment in ICT and also call on our innovative youthful population to show us how we can embrace the new normal without shouting: “we want the old normal back.”
Times have changed, friends; let us spend more time imagining and shaping the future than trying hard to live in the past.
Peter Ogwang is the Usuk County MP and State Minister for ICT & National Guidance
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