Sunday, September 26, 2010

FDC Nakawa Election Petition No. 1

The Chairman

Electoral Committee

Forum for Democratic Change

August 24, 2010

Dear Sir,

I am writing this letter in accordance with Article 24 section 3(d) of the FDC Party Constitution which states that it is the function of the Electoral Committee to establish procedures for voting and determining any dispute raised in regard to elections and election procedures, and to determine how any tied vote should be resolved. I am also copying the letter to the party leadership in the spirit of Chapter 3 Article 8 (i) of the Constitution of the Party which states that: “The guiding principles of the Party shall be: good governance, democracy social justice, transparency, accountability, honesty and integrity.

I regret to inform you that the elections for Polling Area Branches, Parishes, Division and Flag bearer for Nakawa Constituency have been irrevocably compromised and it is no longer possible to hold free and fair elections in the pertaining circumstances. The process leading to the creation of structures for the Division, which will also create the Electoral College for flag bearer of the constituency, has been tainted by deliberate flouting of the principles of democratic, free and fair elections which are cherished by our party; a party founded with the goal of promoting these very principles.

Among those principles that have been breached with impunity are those of:

1. An independent electoral commission

2. Transparency in the electoral process

As a result there has been in our midst a brazen acceptance by your high office of a disturbing display of conflict of interest bordering on abuse of office.

Independent Electoral Commission

It is quite demoralizing that a party which has made free and fair election a central issue of its campaigns could find itself in a predicament where an FDC electoral officer continued to hold office months after declaring his intention to contest in an election that would be presided over by your good offices. Mr. Michael Kabaziguruka, confirmed his intention to contest by informing leaders within the party of that intention, and by printing and displaying campaign materials in several public places weeks before tendering his resignation. Your office had full knowledge of Mr. Kabaziguruka’s intent to contest an election but continued to welcome him to his electoral duties until pressure from his own Division and from other intending contestants forced Mr. Kabaziguruka to resign yesterday August 23, 2010; four days before an election that will determine the Electoral College for the election he wishes to contest.

Transparency in the electoral process

While visiting with party leaders in Banda Parish, on Saturday 21st August, 2010; six days before the Nakawa Division elections; the Chairman of the Parish produced a list with 19 names and stated that this was evidence that he had completed mobilization in the Parish. I learnt at the same meeting that all zones in Banda had similar lists. We retained one of these lists for future reference. It was not clear to me why zones in Banda were making lists of 19 people, the exact number of individuals required to complete a Polling Area Branch (PAB) Committee. I was not satisfied by the explanation given concerning the purpose of the lists by the Chairman of Banda.

Even more damning was the revelation of Monday, August 23, 2010. The Chairman of Kampala District informed me and others attending an organizing meeting for my campaign that he had learnt that same afternoon that Nakawa Division had 75 additional polling stations. He said he’d received the information at a meeting held at FDC headquarters on the same day when Mr. Michael Kabaziguruka submitted that Nakawa did not have enough election materials because there were an additional 75 polling stations. This information was news to FDC Nakawa executive members who were present because it was never shared, even though you, Mr. Chairman said it was readily available at FDC headquarters. Moreover Mr. Kabaziguruka had attended a meeting of the Nakawa Executive the previous day and never divulged this information to those present.

Note that if a contestant came up with an extra 75 PAB Chairpersons unknown to other contestants they would have 75 extra assured votes in a primary election.

It is my submission therefore:

• That failure to remove Michael Kabaziguruka from the office of the Electoral Committee immediately after he made known his intention to contest for a position; constituted an incurable error on the part of the Commission;

• That as a result of retaining his duties after declaring his intention to contest, Mr. Michael Kabaziguruka became privy to critical information that gave him unfair advantage over his opponents in any election.;

• That in addition to being privy to critical information, Mr. Michael Kabaziguruka remained in a position to influence the electoral process until four days before the critical elections that would determine the Electoral College for a position he seeks to hold;

• That the party constitution states in Article 24 section 3(e)that one of the functions of the Electoral Committee it to liaise with the Electoral Commission on electoral matters and therefore it was the responsibility of the Electoral Committee to update all those affected by creation of polling stations rather than for the Commission to assume that all FDC members had access to privileged information and knowledge that the Commission accesses easily;

• That in his dual role of aspiring candidate and Electoral Commissioner Mr. Michael Kabaziguruka had a moral obligation to disclose critical information that he accessed while working on election matters;

• That by willfully withholding information relating to 75 new polling stations in the constituency, Mr. Michael Kabaziguruka not only failed in his role as an Election officer but he also gained an unfair advantage against his opponents, which makes it untenable to lay a level playing field in Nakawa in the remaining 3 days to the PAB elections;

Accordingly, I hereby submit that the damage caused by tolerating the conflict of interest to exist with impunity until days before the election is incurable and it would be futile to attempt to conduct a free and fair election in Nakawa Division in the prevailing circumstances. I request therefore, that the FDC Electoral Commission disqualifies Mr. Michael Kabaziguruka from contesting for a seat in the ongoing Nakawa Constituency; or otherwise provide a remedy that would restore confidence in an election that would be conducted at a future date.

Anne Mugisha

Deputy Secretary, International Affairs

c.c. Secretary General, FDC

President, FDC

Chairman, FDC

NEC Members

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