There was a very low turnout of eligible voters during the five-day registration exercise of new voters in the Busongora South constituency in Kasese district ahead of the parliamentary by-elections. Last week, the Electoral Commission issued a road map for the by-elections scheduled for August 18th, 2022.
The Commission appealed to eligible voters to take advantage of the five days of activity and register, saying that the enrollment team was ready to enrol people in every ward. The exercise began on Friday last week and ended this week on Tuesday.
However, a mini survey conducted by the URN shows that only a few potential voters turned up for the exercise throughout the constituency. The enrolled officers also revealed that many potential voters lacked the required documents and were turned away.
At Hamukungu parish in Lake Katwe Sub County, Pavin Ninsiima, the voter’s register update officer, said that he had recorded fewer than 20 new voters during the four days.
He revealed that they turned away over 30 other potential voters due to the lack of required identification documents like national identity cards, copies of their parents’ national identity cards, or birth certificates.
Olive Muhindo, an enrollment officer at Kikorongo trading center, said they recorded at least 20 people by Friday afternoon. However, she added that she had transferred about 30 others who wished to vote from the area next month.
“Most of the people that come as new voters don’t have the requirements, others have lost their IDs or got spoilt, so they are advised to first get identification.” Muhindo said. Abdallatif Bigumire, the chairperson of LC1 Muhokya central area, says the number of new voters seeking first-time registration fairly picked up on the last day of the exercise.
He revealed that they also had to stop a number of others who wanted transfers yet were known to be permanent residents in other constituencies. Less than 30 people had been registered in his area before Friday.
Enerst Masereka, the speaker of Muhokya, says that many people didn’t hide their call to participate in the election process because of apathy. He also revealed that many other potential voters are students who are in secondary and tertiary institutions outside the constituency and could not come for this exercise.
Pauline Birungi, 19, a resident of Kahokya, said the current state of politics had turned her away from registering. “As a young person, I feel like I don’t need to be coerced by anyone to go and vote because I have seen that leaders are not helping us,” Birungi noted.
Ismael Takik Atwijukire, the Kasese district returning officer, told URN that the majority of those who turned 18 years old in the last year are in school. However, he said they did more mobilisation on Friday to ensure all eligible voters were registered.
The seat fell vacant after the Court of Appeal nullified the election of NRM’s Gideon Mujungu Thembo last month on grounds that the elections were marred by gross irregularities.
The three Justices of Appeal, led by Fredrick Egonda Ntende, overturned the decision of the High Court in Fort Portal and concurred with Thembo’s rival Jackson Mbaju Kathika that there were irregularities at Katunguru Primary School, Katunguru Market, and Busunga Primary School polling stations in Kasese District.