As the day fast draws close to the voting day, concerns on voter turnout continue to highlight the need for radicle voter education and civic engagement. This, among other strategies, will help the electorate to rally each other to go and cast their vote.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the Covid-19 pandemic has heightened to Level 4 exposure rates in Uganda and certainly while the campaigns are going on, the influx in the number of Covid patients continues to sore with 30,4071 cases reported by the Ministry of Health as at December 21.
It is imperative to note that while the electorate are eager to be involved in the electoral cycle, the unprecedented events of holding an election amid a pandemic have left many people gripped with fear on what else could go wrong.
The evidence of no adherence to the standard operating procedures witnessed on campaign rallies could be a preview to what voting day might play out.
The election season has had a lot of challenges, especially for Opposition parties – from curtailing their movements, arbitrary arrests, fear mongering, army onslaughts and summons to the Electoral Commission, the election governing body; which on many occasions, have not eased the hardships that the Opposition face in conducting their campaigns. This notwithstanding, the campaigns have gone on in a gagged environment.
As the campaign season comes to an end, our energy as the electorate should be geared towards voter education and awareness.
The electorate need to be encouraged to prepare to cast their ballot on the January 14. There should be deliberate dialogue and air play of the voting dates for all candidates. Amid fear of contracting Covid-19, the masses need to gear up to observe all SOPs in order for them to exercise their citizenry duty of choosing their leaders.
The Electoral Commission needs to invest more in billboard messages, local radio and TV announcements that can help increase awareness on the remaining phase of the electoral process.
It should be noted that even today, Ugandans are struggling with the information available on and about the voting day and where their polling stations are situated.
In a five-year election tenure, the relevance of this election is high in building a strong government that will help Uganda rise back to her feet from an already fraught economy.
The mandate of the next government should be to revamp the delivery of social services in the land with the health and education sectors at the forefront. It is a great task that the next leaders will have to work with and make sure that the economy survives the aftermath of the pandemic and consequently, your vote counts.
The electorate will decide who will work for them through the ballot. They will also decide who to call back from the August House using the ballot. To vote is to claim back the power vested in Article one of the Ugandan Constitution. “Power belongs to the people”
So Ugandans, I beseech you to reconcile your voting location with your National Identification Number and be ready to vote. I beseech you to bear witness to the vote counting so that you can attest to the fairness or lack thereof in the electoral process.
As presidential candidate Mugisha Muntu says, “Ugandans can overwhelm the regime if they vote for change in large numbers.”
Show up and vote the people who will work and change the development narrative of Uganda. On voting day, show up and shape the next five years of the development trajectory of this land.
Stand and be counted in the Ugandans that care for the present and future prosperity of this land. Vote by all means.
Ms Tricia Gloria Nabaye is the resident research associate – Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies.