Uganda: Workers’ MPs Election Queried

By Ephraim Kasozi

Kampala - A delegate at the just-concluded election of workers' MPs has challenged the process in which five representatives to Parliament were elected.

Mr Emmanuel Mukama alleges that the non-unionised representatives were discriminated against by not being given ample time to fully participate in the exercise.

Through his lawyers, Mr Mukama alleges that the Electoral Commission (EC) and the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, negligently allowed the unionised workers to participate and be elected as representatives of non-unionised workers in contravention of the election guidelines.

He claims that the nomination process was discriminatory against the non-unionised delegates considering that their election ended deep in the night of March 9.

He said their introductory letters from the regional returning officers, which was mandatory for one to be a voter, and therefore eligible for nomination as an MP representing workers, were issued on March 10 at 11am or thereabout from Mbarara, the same day when nominations were to take place in Namboole, near Kampala.

Mr Mukama's petition has been served on the EC, which has acknowledged receipt. He further alleges that the time provided was not enough as for one to be nominated as a candidate had to be accredited first and verified as a genuine voter, and "... thereafter be issued with the bank slips at Namboole and head to town for payment in the bank and then go to EC headquarters pick nomination forms, have them filled, certified by a Commissioner for Oaths and take them to Namboole to be duly nominated as a candidate."

On March 11, the EC declared five people; Aston Arinaitwe Rwakajara, Charles Bakkabulindi, Dr Sam Lyomoki, Margaret Namubiru Rwabushaija and Agnes Kunihira as workers' representatives in Parliament.

The non-unionised workers were allowed to vote following a directive by the Constitutional Court after a finding that they were marginalised by the Parliamentary Elections Act of 2005.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Mr Mukama said they were waiting for the elected candidates to be gazetted, in order to formally petition court.

Mr Jotham Taremwa, the EC spokesperson, said: " There is no one who was disenfranchised. The allegation is baseless. Let him substantiate."

Source: All Africa