Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Was Uganda’s 2016 General Election a Rigged Exercise?

Mbabazi displays nomination forms before the media at EC headquarters in Kampala on August 17Brief Background
Uganda has a history of flawed or rigged general elections and the 2016 elections were no exception. In 1980, the elections were claimed by the Democratic Party (DP) and Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM) to have been rigged.This prompted the then Presidential Candidate of UPM Mr. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to wage a protracted guerilla war against the then ruling Uganda Peoples’ Party (UPC) government.Ugandans believed then the claim that the elections were indeed rigged and accorded the National Resistance Movement and Army (NRA/M) led by Mr. Museveni great support, which later ushered the NRA/M into government in 1985. 
The NRA/M came with a slogan of fundamental change aimed at reversing the ills of past leaderships, including the rigging of elections. However, from 2001 to date, the elections have been marred with allegations of rigging and election malpractices, which were acknowledged by the courts of law of Uganda.The following is an analysis of the 2016 general election that demonstrates its flawed or rigged nature.The poll was gazetted to be conducted from 7.00am to 4.00pm Thursday, February 18, 2016. This provides a total time period of only 9 hours to poll and collect results from about 28,010 polling stations countrywide.This was on the assumption that polling would start at exactly 7.00am at each polling station. However, this was not the case. Many polling stations started many hours late, which promoted the Electoral Commission to allow for an extra day of polling for selected sites in Kampala.
  • The total tally of votes cast was 9,701,738 million over the cited timeline above. Of this, 455,175 were invalid votes, leaving 9,246,563 valid votes. Considering the layout of the polling stations; the time allocated for the polls; and the delays in starting polls at many polling stations in the country, it was mathematically and practically impossible for this years’ election to deliver this vote count.
  • Assuming that all polling stations started at the originally scheduled time and assuming a maximum lead time of 5minutes between one voter to another moving from the line; reaching the polling agents’ desk; presenting his/her voters’ identification; verifying his/her voter identity; activating the thumb print in the Biometric Voter Verification Machine; receiving the vote; and moving onwards to the first box (i.e. the presidential box) to vote; the number of voters that would practically be handled and cast per hour would only be twelve (Table 1 below). Table 1 below provides the expected number of voters handled and cast over the stipulated 9 hour period of the voting day assuming different lead times between voters.
Table 1: Expected Number of voters that should have cast their votes on Polling Day
Lead Time between Voters (in Minutes)Number of Voters handled Per HourDuration of Voting (hours)Number of Polling Stations in the country Expected Number of Voters Handled on Voting DayExpected Number of Votes Cast on Voting Day
One or two minute leads between voters going to cast their vote was practically impossible, because of the layout of the polling stations and the time taken for clearing each vote by the polling agents.
Three minute leads would be possible after sometime of conducting the voting exercise – as voters and polling agents getting accustomed to the exercise.Four-to-five minute leads between voters were mostly likely common. Anything longer would deliver a lower number of cast votes.This scenario was worsened by the delays in commencing the voting exercises in many polling stations. So, it was practically impossible for the voting process to deliver 9,701,738 million votes as reported by the Electoral Commission.This can only be possible through rigging or voters and polling agents acting fast like machines. An imagination of a scenario of voters and polling agents acting as machines would be comical.
  • Taking the 4 & 5 minute lead times between voters and considering the extra voting day allocated for special cases in Kampala; it would not be possible that an additional 5,920,388million to 6,676,658 million cast votes would be churned-out from this special cases.
It is important to recognize that many (5,575,460) eligible voters actually did not vote for various reasons including delayed delivery of voting materials to polling stations.
  • The Electoral Commission (EC) reported that the Voter Registered 15,277,198 eligible voters. Going by the realistic lead times between voters and assuming that voting started as scheduled, it would require 3.03 to 5.05 days to realistically complete the polling exercise and allow each eligible voter to cast their votes. However, this was not the case. Therefore, the Electoral Commission must convince Ugandans how the 9,701,738 million cast votes were realized.
Conclusions and Recommendations
  • Somebody was too busy in a panic mode rigging the vote to stay in power or to remove an incumbent regime that they were too careless to notice the reality checks. The final number of cast votes (9,701,738 million) is not in tandem with the time allocated for voting, the mathematics and practicality of the matter.The Electoral Commission was too careless not to do a background check and verify the numbers before announcing them. The EC must apologize to Ugandans for delivering flawed election results.No Ugandan should be proud of this election, because it is too flawed and/or rigged to be associated with.The national and International Electoral Observers should not associate themselves with this election, because it has exhibited evident flaws and signs of vote rigging. They should declare it for what it actually is a sham.
  • The courts of law, if they are worth the salt in their name, should nullify the election, if petitions in this regard are presented to them.

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