CSOs Propose Amendments to Parliamentary Election Act Top story

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In short
John Mary Odoy, the chairperson of Transparency International, says imposing limits on how much candidates can spend is essential because when they use huge sums of money they find ways of recouping it.

The Alliance for Finance Monitoring-ACFIM has unveiled the Parliamentary elections (Amendment) Bill 2018. ACFIM is a consortium of 16 Civil Society Organizations. The bill proposes an amendment to the Parliamentary Elections act to bar candidates found guilty of vote buying from running for office for more than 10 years.
 

According to the CSOs, in its current form, the Parliamentary Elections act 2005 bans voter bribery but doesn't prohibit excessive use of money, receiving a lot of money to influence elections and doesn't anchor well on the accountability of candidates in terms of where they get the money and how much it is.


They argue that proposed amendment will deter candidates from vote buying but also ensure integrity, stop corruption and ensure a level playing ground for all candidates in an election. Henry Muguzi, the National Coordinator ACFIM, says the proposed amendment seeks to ensure that all candidates present their bank statements and also set a prescribed amount of expenses for elections within six months before nominations.


 

This will depend on the geographical size of the electoral area and population size of voters among others. Section 7 of the proposed amendment also seeks to push candidates to submit their election expenses, which in turn be published in the Gazette. The proposed amendment also seeks to set a limit donations received by candidates from their well-wishers and seeks to prohibit concealment of source of funds.



It proposes the nullification of the election of the candidate upon proof of violation of any of its provisions. Muguzi notes that vote buying and all other irregularities in campaign financing are the root cause of corruption in Uganda, inflation, misuse of Government resources, poverty and poor service delivery among others.


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John Mary Odoy, the chairperson of Transparency International, says imposing limits on how much candidates can spend is essential because when they use huge sums of money they find ways of recouping it.

 
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He also says there is need to establish a committee of persons of integrity and introduce specific amendment on the President's use of public resources during campaign.

Anne Adeke Ebaju, the Eastern National Youth MP, says the proposal is long overdue giving the massive use of funds by candidates at all levels.
 
 
She says as MPs they are in favor of the proposals since candidates feel the weight of debts during, before and after elections.

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Among other things, the bill also defines electoral expenses in a broader perspective as any cost associated with elections monetary or non-monetary, broadcast in media, use of capital assets and conduct of election surveys among others.
 
Once finalized, the bill will be presented to parliament as a private member's bill in July. According to ACFIM, several MPs have showed the support for the proposed amendments.

 

About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.