Cover Image
close this bookA Complete Guide to Uganda's Fourth Constitution - History, Politics and the Law (Fountain Publishers, 1995, 118 p.)
close this folderChapters
View the document1. The Historical Background
View the document2. New State and Constitutionalism
View the document3. Towards the Fourth Constitution
View the document4. The CA Debate on the Draft Constitution
View the document5. The 1995 Constitution
View the document6. Summary and Conclusion

3. Towards the Fourth Constitution

Fundamental changes

When the National Resistance Movement/Army (NRM/A) captured state power on January 26,1986 after a five year protracted war, it suspended, under the Legal Notice 1 of 1986, some parts of the 1967 Constitution.

Chapter IV of the Constitution concerning the executive was suspended except articles related to presidential powers. These included 24 and 28 providing for the office of the President and specifying his duties and powers. Articles 34-36 defining the functions of Ministers and Deputy Ministers, the Attorney General and stipulations that oaths of allegiance be taken by Ministers and Deputy Ministers were retained.

The whole of Chapter V providing for the composition of parliament was suspended. Also suspended were legislative powers of parliament as the "sole power to make laws for peace, order and good governance of Uganda with respect to any matter" as contained in Chapter VI article 63.

Furthermore, the NRM government banned political party activities on the grounds that it wanted to create a conducive atmosphere for reconciliation. The NRM argued that the old political parties had been characterized by ethnic and religious sectarianism as well as opportunism. Instead of promoting unity, these parties had become the source of acrimony and conflict. Conflicts between political parties, their struggle for state power, spawned disunity, instability and violence.

The clamp down on political party activities was justified as a means to calm political tension and friction generated by sectarian politics of the past. NRM argued that it was the most effective way to create an atmosphere for unity, peace and prosperity. By the NRM spirit of "accommodation of dissenting views", various political forces were invited to join the new government to enhance the movement system of governance and propagate a no-party democracy.

According to Legal Notice 1 of 1986 the NRM political agenda was enshrined in a ten-point programme. The objective of the programme was to chart out a new course in Uganda's politics. Since independence, intrigue and manipulation had been used to win and retain power. Armed conflict rather than the ballot became the means to state power. Consequently, post-colonial Uganda was bedevilled by coups, conflicts, the abuse of liberty, the violation of human rights, dictatorship and economic collapse. The emerging political forces took up arms to resist dictatorship and to fight for democracy. Successive regimes from Idi Amin to the Okellos claimed to fight for freedom and democracy but never created appropriate conditions and strategies to allow for that goal.

The NRM, however, introduced the ten-point programme as its pointer and guide in changing Uganda. The NRM expressed its determination to ensure that thousands of Ugandans who lost their lives in the protracted bush war in the Luwero Triangle did not die in vain. Yoweri Museveni, in his maiden speech as President on January 29, 1986, said that the capture of state power was not a mere change of guards. He said NRM's mission was to bring about a 'fundamental change' in all aspects of national life in Uganda.

The Ten-point programme

The key points in the programme were:

1. the establishment of democracy;

2. the restoration of security;

3. the consolidation of national unity and elimination of all forms of sectarianism;

4. the defence and consolidation of national independence;

5. the building of an independent, integrated and self-sustaining national economy;

6. the restoration and improvement of social services and the rehabilitation of war ravaged areas;

7. the elimination of corruption and misuse of power;

8. the rectification of the errors which had dislocated society;

9. co-operation with other African countries in defending human and democratic rights; and

10. the adoption of a mixed economy strategy.

Resistance Councils and Committees

In order to restore democracy and to ensure popular participation in the governance of Uganda, new political structures were introduced. The nine-member Resistance Committees (RCs) were set up at various levels of society to encourage popular participation in the political process. In this political arrangement, all sections of society were represented including women, the youth and the workers. The nine-member executive committee comprised the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, General Secretary, and the secretaries for defence, youth, women, mass mobilisation and education, information, and finance.

At the RC I level, the RC committees were elected by all the adults in the village through the system of queuing. All the other RC committees above the village level were chosen through a hierarchy of electoral colleges from the RC II to the national level. The RC system formed the anchor of NRM broadbased politics. Different political forces participated in the RCs and later in the National Resistance Council (NRC).

In 1989 the NRC was expanded from the original 39 members to 278 through electoral colleges consisting of the RCs at county level. Voting was by queuing behind nominated candidates in each county. These indirect elections were personality contests. In theory, individual candidates were not allowed to campaign.

Initially, the NRM government was supposed to be in power for an interim period of four years. This period was due to expire in January 1990. However, soon after the expansion of NRC, Legal Notice No 1 was amended to extend the interim period to January 1994. One of the justifications for the extension of the interim period was to allow for the making of a new constitution. Since by January 1994, the constitution making exercise was still in progress the NRM once more extended its term of office. Presidential and parliamentary elections will now be held after the promulgation of the new constitution in October, 1995.

Besides the constitution making exercise, other problems that necessitated the first extension of the interim period were the war in the north and north-east of the country which to some extent diverted government efforts and resources from the implementation of the ten-point programme. The NRM government insisted that it needed more time to effect the desired changes before organising elections.

From the outset the NRM leadership stressed that the mission of the movement was to restore democracy. According to the NRM leaders the movement's rise to power represented a commitment to re-building democratic institutions. The NRM argued that before democracy could be restored, certain favourable conditions relating to security, rehabilitation and reconstruction of the economy had to be created. The steps towards democracy had already been taken through the establishment of the RCs. The NRM was convinced that the making of a new constitution for Uganda was in tandem with this process of democratization. For the NRM, this was also a clear manifestation of its democratic credentials.

The Uganda Constitutional Commission

After establishing a broad-based government, the NRM turned to constitutionalism. The main aim of the exercise was to enable and empower Ugandans re-examine the constitutional structures and to make a constitution in line with their aspirations.

A bill to establish a Constitutional Commission to draft a national constitution was tabled before the NRC at the beginning of November 1988. After three weeks of debate, the bill was passed. The commission consisted of 21 members who were entrusted with the task of sensitizing the people about constitutionalism, collecting and analysing the submissions of Ugandans on the new constitution and preparing the draft constitution.

In accordance with the stipulations of the Uganda Constitutional Commission Statute of 1988, President Yoweri Museveni, in February 1988, appointed the members of the commission. These were:

Justice Ben Odoki

-

Chairman

Dr. Dan Mudhoola

-

Vice-Chairman

Prof. Phares Mukasa Mutibwa

-

Secretary

Dr. Edward Kiddu Makubuya

-

Member

Mr. Jonathan Kateera

-

Member

Mr. Justine A.O. Okot

-

Member

Dr. Rev. Fr. John Mary Waligo

-

Member

Mrs. Immaculate Damali Angena Maitum

-

Member

Prof. Fred Sempebwa

-

Member

Mr. Cyprian Rwaheru

-

Member

Prof. Andrew Otim

-

Member

Dr. Eric Adriko

-

Member

Mr. George Ofoyuru

-

Member

Mrs. Gertrude Byekwaso

-

Member

Mr. Sam Kirya Gole

-

Member

Mr. Cuthbert Obwangor

-

Member

Hon. Miria Matembe (Mrs)

-

Member

Mr. Medi Kaggwa

-

Member

Lt. Col. Serwanga Lwanga

-

Member

Hon. Jotham Tumwesigye

-

Member

Ms. Mary Amaitumu.

-

Member

Dr. E.T.S Adriko and Gertrude Byekwaso only served briefly in 1989 before being appointed Minister of Industry and Technology and Minister of Women's Affairs respectively. They were replaced by Mr. S. Wenkere - Kisembo and Aziz Kalungi Kasujja. Dr. Rev. Fr John Mary Waligo later became the secretary replacing Prof. Phares Mutibwa who continued serving as a member of the commission. Hon. Kirya Gole ceased to be a member in 1991 and Dr. Dan Mudhoola was killed in a grenade attack in 1993.

According to the Uganda Constitutional Commission Statute, the commission's terms of reference were:

A. To study and review the constitution with a view of making proposals for the enactment of a national constitution that would:

i. guarantee the national independence and territorial integrity and sovereignty of Uganda;

ii. establish a free and democratic system of government that will guarantee the fundamental rights and freedom of the people of Uganda;

iii. create viable political institutions that will ensure maximum consensus and orderly succession to government;

iv. recognise and demarcate division of responsibility among the state organs of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary and create viable checks and balances between them;

v. endeavour to develop a system of government that ensures people's participation in governance of their country;

vi. endeavour to develop a democratic, free and fair electoral system that will ensure people's representation in the legislature and at other levels;

vii. establish and uphold the principle of public accountability by the holders of public offices and political posts; and

viii. guarantee the independence of the Judiciary;

B. Formulate and produce a draft constitution that will form the basis for the country's new national constitution.

Collection of public views

The commission had the mandate to gather public views through public meetings, debates, seminars and workshops. At such fora people were educated about constitutional matters with the aim of stimulating discussion and debate.

A variety of the methods were adopted to collect views from the public. These included written memoranda, public meetings, oral submissions, newspaper articles, and position papers delivered at seminars of professional bodies, interest groups and educational institutions. Essay competitions were also organized for different categories of people, from primary to post secondary levels of education.

The public response to the collection of data by the commission was very impressive. In total, the commission received 25,542 submissions which formed the basis for the Draft Constitution. Apart from views collected locally, the Commission travelled to Britain, Germany, India, Italy, Sweden, Canada and the USA to study constitutions of those countries and draw lessons for Uganda. In addition, the Commission had the opportunity to gather views from Ugandans living abroad.

Summary of submissions:

District seminar reports

-

33

Institutional seminar reports

-

53

Sub-county seminar reports

-

813

Individual memoranda

-

2553

Group memoranda

-

839

RC5

-

36

RC4

-

13

RC3

-

564

RC1

-

9,521

Essay competitions

-

5,844

News paper articles

-

2,763

Position papers

-

290





Total

25,547

The findings and all submissions were analysed by the Commission, within the context of Uganda's political history, to produce a draft which became the basis for debate on the fourth constitution of Uganda.

The Uganda Constitutional Commission accomplished its work in 1992 (twenty one months behind schedule) after extending from the original March 1991 deadline. On December 31, 1992 the Commission presented a 20-chapter Draft Constitution with a 750-page report to President Yoweri Museveni at a function held in Mbarara.


President Museveni (left) receiving the Draft Constitution from the Chairman of the Constitutional Commission, Justice Ben Odoki on December 31, 1992 in Mbarara.

The Draft Constitution of 1992

Compared to the constitutions of 1962 and 1967 which had thirteen and twelve chapters respectively, the draft constitution was very detailed. The 1992 draft constitution covered:

Chapter

I

The Constitution.

II

The Republic.

III

National objectives and directives principles of state policy.

IV

Citizenship.

V

Fundamental human rights and freedoms.

VI

Representation of the people.

VII

The Executive.

VIII

The legislature.

IX

The National Council of State.


X

The Judiciary.


XII

Finance.


XII

Local Government.


XIV

Defence and National Security.


XV

Inspectorate of Government.


XVI

Leadership Code of Conduct.


XVII

Land and Environment.


XVIII

General and Miscellaneous.


XIX

Amendment of the Constitution.


XX

Transition provisions.

The voluminous Draft Constitution was conditioned by the country's recent experience. It was an attempt to overcome the previous constitutional short-comings, to accommodate divergent opinions, and to ensure that future conflicts were resolved by peaceful constitutional means.

Controversies and consensus

The Constitution Commission's findings revealed a general consensus on the following issues: the supremacy of the constitution, the defence of the constitution and fundamental rights and freedom with special reference to women, children and disadvantaged groups.

There was consensus on the direct election of the president with two terms of office. Consensus was also reached on the need for a strong and independent legislature to check and balance the power of the executive. On language, English was widely supported as an official language. The adoption of state religion was rejected. There was overwhelming support for the independence of the Electoral Commission, the Judicial Service Commission, the Audit Commission and the Public Service Commission. Finally, consensus was reached on a number of other issues which included the elimination of corruption, the institution of the Inspectorate of Government and decentralization of power.

At the same time, there were a number of controversial submissions to the constitutional Commission. One of these was the question of a national language. The choice was between Swahili and Luganda. In order to reconcile the divergent views, the Constitution Commission produced a compromise in Article 34 in the Draft Constitution. "The state shall encourage the development of a national language or languages that can unite Ugandans and promote cooperation between Ugandans and the peoples of the countries within the region". According to this article, the recommendation of a single national language was thus evaded.

The issue of the form of government was more contentious. There was controversy about the suitability of federal and unitary forms of government. In the end, the Commission recommended a unitary form of government with a high degree of decentralisation. Chapter II Article 4(i) of the Draft Constitution stated that "Uganda is one Unitary Sovereign state and a Republic". With regard to local government. Article 201 (i) of the Draft Constitution stipulated that "The system of local government in Uganda shall be based on the district as a unit under which there shall be such administrative units as Parliament may by law provide". This precluded centralization of power and emphasised devolution.

The issue of traditional leaders, too, drew conflicting submissions. Though there were strong arguments for and against the restoration of traditional rulers, the Commission recommended the restoration of traditional leaders. Some of the traditional rulers were however restored before the debate on the constitution. In this regard, the restoration of Traditional Rulers Statue of 1993, pre-emptied the work of the Constituent Assembly.

In the Draft Constitution, traditional rulers were catered for under Article 34 (i) stating "Cultural and customary values which are consistent with fundamental rights and freedoms, human dignity, democracy and with this constitution may be developed and incorporated in aspects of Ugandan life". Furthermore, it was provided that "The state and the citizen shall promote and preserve those cultural values which contribute to the identity of Ugandans and which are consistent with modem way of life". This accommodated not only the cultures and traditional rulers of Buganda, Tooro, Bunyoro, Ankole and Busoga but also those of all peoples of Uganda.

Views on the type of the political system were by far the most contentious. Passionate debates and submissions revolved around the choice between movement and multi-party systems. There was no clear majority for either system, but the Commission recommended the continuation of the movement system for five years after the promulgation of the new constitution. It also recommended that after those five years a referendum should be held to determine the suitable political system for Uganda.

The provision on the political systems in the constitution sought to entrench the movement. This was contained in Chapter Six, Article 94 (i) of the Draft Constitution stating "The political movement system in this chapter refer to "the Movement" which was in existence immediately before the coming into force of this constitution ans shall continue in existence, subject to the provisions of Articles 95, 96 and 98 of this constitution." Article 95 provided that "Parliament may by law create organs of the Movement and define their roles". Article 96 stated that: "During any period when the movement is in existence, political parties shall not endorse, sponsor, offer a platform to, or in any way campaign for or against a candidate for any public election."

In Article 98(i) it was stipulated that: "During the fourth year after the assumption of office of the first president elected under this constitution, a referendum shall be held to determine whether or not the movement should continue in existence or whether the system of representation through political parties should be adopted in place of the movement".

Other contentious issues encountered by the Constitutional Commission were the electoral system and army representation. Most views favoured a simple majority system while a minority opted for proportional representation. The Commission chose the simple majority and included it in the draft as Article 106 (4) stating that:

Any person shall not be declared elected as president unless the number of votes cast in his favour at the Presidential election is more than Fifty percent of the total number of valid votes at the election.

According to Article 106 (5): "Where at a presidential election no candidate obtains the percentage of votes specified in clause (4) of this Article a second election shall be held in which the two candidates who obtained the highest number of votes shall be the only candidates and the persons who obtains the highest numbers of the votes cast in the second election shall be declared president."

With regard to army representation in parliament, a minority of the submissions wanted institution to be kept out of politics. Those in favour of this view argued that since independence the army had been turned into an instrument of terror which had grossly abused fundamental human rights. The army had in the past been an instrument for oppression of the citizen, abdicating its duty to protect and defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Uganda. But the Constitution Commission provided for army representation in recognition of its historical role in liberating the people of Uganda from decades of misrule.

New trends

The Draft Constitution contained new innovations in Uganda's constitutional history. For example, it recommended the separation of presidential and parliamentary elections. The 1967 constitution provided that the leader of the majority party in parliament automatically became President. In contrast, the Draft Constitution proposed that the president should be directly elected by universal adult suffrage.

Other new innovations included National Objectives and Directions of state policy, Chapter III; National Council of State, Chapter DC; Leadership Code of Conduct, Chapter XVI; the Inspectorate of Government, Chapter XV; Army representation in Parliament, Chapter XIV; The Environment and its importance, Chapter XVII; and establishment of a permanent Human Rights Commission, Chapter V.

The Constituent Assembly

In order to pave the way for the debate of the Draft Constitution, on February 18,1993, the Minister of State for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, presented a bill to the NRC seeking to establish a constituent assembly for the purpose of debating and enacting the new constitution. The bill spelt out the composition and functions of the assembly, elections of delegates, and conduct of business of the assembly.

The bill generated heated debate in the NRC. An unprecedented number of CMs contributed diverse and controversial views during the course of the debate in the NRC. In the end, 240 NRC members contributed to the debate of the bill. This demonstrated the importance which members attached to the constitution-making process. The CMs demonstrated a commitment to ensure the rebuilding of Uganda on a new democratic and constitutional foundation.

Foremost among the controversies regarding the bill was the composition of the Constituent Assembly. Some CMs wanted to transform the NRC into a constituent assembly, reminiscent of the 1967 constitution when the parliament converted itself into a constitution making body. Others questioned the legitimacy of the NRC to make a new constitution for Uganda. They pointed out that he the NRC was packed with the "historicals", presidential nominees and army representatives who did not enjoy the mandate of the voters. They also argued that even the mandate of the elected NRC members was questionable. These members were indirectly elected through RC electoral colleges at county level. They were not elected by universal suffrage and secret ballot. Accordingly, the NRC was dominated by the NRM establishment and, as such, it was not qualified to debate and enact the new constitution. Some of the CMs also insisted that they could not pass the bill without studying the Constitution Commission Report. They called on Government to circulate the copies of the Draft Constitution and the report to enable members to meaningfully discuss the bill.

The debate in the NRC became so heated to the extent that the bill was almost derailed. The President personally intervened to save the situation. In a day long closed session, under the chairmanship of President Yoweri Museveni, it was agreed that a fresh constituent assembly based on universal suffrage and secret ballot should be elected to debate and enact the new national constitution. The CA bill was finally passed on April 20, 1993. Subsequently, the President gave his assent on May 14, 1993.

The Constituent Assembly Statue of 1993 provided for the appointment of the Commissioner for the Constituent Assembly by the President within two weeks after assent. In the event, the appointment was not made until June 18,1993. On that day, the President appointed Stephen Besweri Akabway as Commissioner, Vincent Ferrer Musoke Kibuuka, as Deputy Commissioner responsible for Technical Affairs and Mrs Gladys M. Kabahuma Nduru as Deputy Commissioner for Finance and Administration.

The main functions of the Commission for the Constituent Assembly were to demarcate me electoral areas throughout the country and organise and supervise elections of delegates to the assembly. In addition, the Constituent Assembly Commission was to serve as the secretariat for the Constituent Assembly during the course of the debate of the Draft Constitution.

Demarcation of electoral areas

The country was demarcated into 214 electoral areas for the directly elected delegates. The criteria of demarcation was in accordance with the Constituent Assembly election rules stipulating that a county would, however small, constitute an electoral area. The national average of an electoral area was to be 70,000 people. Where the county population exceeded 140,000 people it was divided into two or more electoral areas. For example, Bukoto county, in Masaka District, with a population of over 360,000 people, was divided into five electoral areas.

Apart from the directly elected delegates, the Constituent Assembly provided for the representation of special interest groups. These were 39 women from districts (one from each of the 39 districts), 10 from National Resistance Army, 2 from National Organisation of Trade Unions, 2 from each of the 4 political parties which contested the 1980 elections, 4 from the National Youth Council, 1 from the National Union of Disabled Persons and 10 presidential nominees. Assembly delegates from special interest groups constituted one third of the directly elected delegates. The total numerical strength of the CA was 288 delegates. Eventually, the actual number of the delegates was 284, because UPC refused to send its two delegates, in protest against the ban on political party activities. And the UPM did not send its delegates because the party leadership argued that the party's views and ideals had already been achieved under the NRM.

Registration of voters

The Commissioner for the Constituent Assembly appointed District Executive Secretaries as Returning Officers in August 1993. The Returning Officers in turn appointed Registration Officers and their assistants.

The registration exercise started on November 8,1993 and ended on December 23, 1993. The exercise was earlier planned to last 30 days but was later extended by 10 days to allow more voters to register. The registration exercise was slow at the beginning because the mobilisation of voters was not sufficient However, by 23rd December 1993, over 85% of all eligible voters had registered.

There were cases of non-Ugandans, mostly in Buganda, who attempted to register as voters. These included Banyarwanda, Barundi and Tanzanians. According to the Constituent Assembly Statute of 1993, a person qualifies to be registered as a voter or to vote if he is a citizen who has attained 18 years. This meant that aliens were barred from registration. Unfortunately, in many of these cases, it was difficult to tell who was and who was not a Ugandan.

A total of 7,186,514 voters throughout the country registered. The District registration statistics were:

Iganga

440,464


Tororo

256,486

Kampala

404,667


Bushenyi

251,641

Mpigi

391,291


Lira

231,556

Mukono

342,686


Kamuli

218,930

Mbarara

342,678


Soroti

212,290

Masaka

304,500


Apac

205,062

Arua

302,636


Mubende

197,057

Kabarole

290,071


Kabale

176,854

Mbale

289,696


Pallisa

176,157

Luwero

169,681


Kibaale

101,965

Rukungiri

164,126


Kisoro

75,681

Kitgum

163,835


Hoima

68,634

Gulu

163,282


Kiboga

59,752

Rakai

145332


Moyo

59,665

Kasese

138377


Kotido

55,953

Nebbi

134,740


Moroto

52380

Ntungamo

130,750


Bundibugyo

52,102

Jinja

126,998


Kapchorwa

52,097

Kumi

122,594


Kalangala

9,615

Masindi

104,033


Nomination of candidates

Nominations were held on January 17th and 18th, 1994. Candidates were required to pay a non-refundable fee of U shs 100,000 to Government. Each candidate was required to present a tax clearance certificate before qualifying for nomination. Each candidate was proposed by two people and supported by ten others who were duly registered as voters in the aspirants' electoral area.

During the nomination process, three candidates were returned unopposed. These were John Nasasira, Kazo county, Mbarara; Obua-Otoa, Erute county north, Lira, and Dr Okullo Epak, Oyam county south, Apac.

Civic education

The Constituent Assembly Commission conducted civic education out-reaches throughout the country to sensitize the population on the electoral process.

Two officially recognised bodies, namely the National Organisation for Civic Education and Election Monitoring (NOCEM) and the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC), supplemented the civic education exercise. NOCEM's accreditation to carry out civic education was withdrawn by the Commissioner for the Constituent Assembly after the that body's impartiality was brought into question. Government alleged that NOCEM had been infiltrated by detractors from the old political parties. On the other hand, NOCEM argued that it was government functionaries who were preparing to rig the Constituent Assembly elections in favour of pro-movement candidates. NOCEM also criticised government for using a combination of RC 3 councils and women's councils at RCIII level as electoral colleges for women delegates to the CA. Despite these controversies, NOCEM was allowed to monitor the elections.

Campaigns

The media of publicity for the candidates were posters, leaflets, radio and television, and newspapers. Candidates' meetings were the only prescribed open fora for campaigns. Candidates were required to address public meetings on constitutional matters for up to twenty minutes. Partisan political rallies were prohibited as candidates were required to contest elections on personal merit. And to answer questions from the voters, candidates were only allowed to express support for either movement or multipartyism without indicating their specific political party affiliation. Fund-raising activities were suspended during this time because some candidates were using them as leverage to gain votes through their monetary contributions. Political and Military education courses commonly known as mchaka mchaka, organised by the NRM Secretariat, were also halted before the election in order to level the political ground for all the candidates. All these measures were deliberately designed to ensure that the Constituent Assembly membership rose above parochialism and sectarianism. It was hoped that competition on personal merit would produce the best delegates to debate the fourth Constitution of Uganda.

Polling days

The Constituent Assembly elections had originally been slated for December 1993 but due to logistical constrictions in the electoral process, they were postponed to March 1994. The CA delegates from 214 EAs were elected on March 28, 1994. The special interest group delegates were elected in April on the following days:

April 8th

Youth delegates.

April 17th

National Union of Disabled Persons (NUDIPU).

April 18th

Political parties' delegates (CP and DP nominated their statutory delegates but UPC and UPM did not send delegates to the CA.)

April 24th

Trade unions.

April 26th

Women delegates.

April 30th

NRA delegates elections/Appointment of presidential nominees to the CA.


Figure

Above; Voters go through electoral procedures to cast their ballots for CA delegates. Below: A member of an international observer team checks on the results at a polling station.


Figure

Election observers group

Local and international observer groups were invited and encouraged by Government to monitor the electoral process to ensure free and fair elections. The intention of the Government was to legitimatise the election results in order to gain acceptance both locally and internatinally. Among the local observers were NOCEM and UJCC. NOCEM consisted of fourteen organisations: Uganda Law Society (ULS), Federicio Internationale De Abogadas (FIDA-U), Action for Development (ACFODE), Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), Uganda Human Rights Activists (UHA), Uganda Community Based Association for Children (UCBAC), Uganda Christian Prisoners Aid Foundation (UCPAF), Youth Alliance for Development and Cooperation (YADC), Makerere Law Society (MLS), Uganda Journalists Association (UJA), Uganda News Editors and Proprietors Association (UNEPA), Uganda Federation of Business and Professional Women (UFBPW) and National Curriculum and Development Centre (NCDC). The UJCC represented three christian churches - the Church of Uganda, the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

The international observers came from 18 countries and organisations. Countries which sent observers included Australia, Austria, Burundi, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Rwanda, Sweden, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Zaire. The international organisations were the United Nations Organization (UN), the Africa-America Institute, the Carter Centre, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the European Union, the International Republican Institute and the Friedreich Ebert Foundation.

The observer groups examined various stages of the electoral process. Their task covered scrutinising the electoral guidelines, voters' registration, candidates' meetings, the voting process and the counting of the votes. The overall assessment by observers was that the electoral process from registration to polling day was free and fair and that the results reflected the democratic will of the people of Uganda.

To ensure transparency, there was one ballot box for all the candidates and one ballot paper carrying the photographs and names of all candidates in an electoral area. The ballot boxes were in the open but at a safe distance to allow for secrecy. Votes were counted by the polling assistants immediately after the closure of the polling station, in presence of the voters and the candidates or their agents.

Although the elections were generally free and fair, some aspects of the process were open to criticism. In some places, voters' registers were not adequately displayed, there were cases of missing names and instances where voters were not able to tell which polling stations they were supposed to go to. The ink used to mark a voters' thumb after voting was not indelible. Voters' certificates of registration were not stamped after voting to show that they had cast their votes. All these weaknesses meant that there were dangers of multiple voting by some unscrupulous voters. Besides, some election officials were accused of manipulating the electoral process in favour of certain candidates.

Some of those shortcomings were later cited as grounds for petitions. There were twenty petitions. Those were by Sulaiman Ssembajja, Francis Ayume, Ateker Ejalu, Atuto Silvesty, Andrew Eilu, Kefa Sempangi, Mulondo Serundi, Namutale, Bonse Asubo, Patrick Okilmu, Migadad Saad, Yosiya Rugarama, Maj. John Mugisha, Maj. Jacob Asiimwe, James Wapakhabulo, Lawrence Nsereko Kiwanuka, Felicity Etiang (Mrs), Sam Kibuuka, Harriet Nakazana Kiyinji and Raphael Baku. Only two petitions - those of James Wapakhabulo and Ssembajja were successful. Consequently, by-elections were held and Morris Kagimu defeated Sembajja in a contest for Bukomansimbi county, Masaka District Having been elected the CA Chairman, Wapakhabulo did not enter the by-election race for Mbale Municipality. George Masika was elected in the subsequent bye-election.

Funding the electoral process

The electoral exercise cost about U. shs 18 billion (about US$ 20 million). The Uganda government contributed U. shs. 7.6bn and donor contributions amounted to U. shs. 10,4bn. Donors included Japan, Denmark, Australia, Austria, Sweden, The Netherlands, Norway, the European Union, DANIDA, UNDP, SIDA, NORAD and USAID. (See donors contributions, Appendix V).

The costs of funding the electoral process and maintaining the 284 constituent delegates for sixteen months was colossal by Ugandan standards. Uganda could not have funded the exercise alone without overstretching its meagre resources.

These huge costs of making a new constitution for Uganda were nevertheless justified. Governance by the rule of law and peaceful conflict resolution by constitutional means is far less expensive than the cost of suppressing recurrent political upheavals.