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H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
PRESIDENT ! THE REP"#$I% ! "&ANDA
Election Rigging in "gan'a
()*( + ,-(.
As soon as the Universal elective processes were introduced in Uganda,
the shallow opportunists immediately hatched two schemes of winning
power against the democratic phenomena. One scheme was
sectarianism and the other was election rigging. Both result in the
negating of the democratic process because they distort the results of the
process. People who should not have been elected are elected because
of sectarian intoxication or because of cheating.
In this article, I will deal with the election rigging. On another occasion,
I will deal with sectarianism and other political issues. he practitioners
of rigging in the !"#! and !"#$ elections were the Uganda Peoples%
&ongress 'UP&(. By !"#!, I was !) years old and I was beginning to be
active in the *emocratic Party '*P( +outh ,eague. -ince the +outh
,eague of *P was not well organi.ed, I was really self/mobili.ed
because of the sectarian politics the elite had been pushing for some time
0 undermining the Uganda 1ational &ongress 'U1&( which had started
with a patriotic platform 0 at least in rhetoric.
he UP&, apart from co/sponsoring sectarianism along with *P, had the
additional mista2e of systematically rigging the elections of !"#!, !"#$
and !"34. 5ow did they do it6 hey started with the election law,
assisted by a British official 'whether he did so consciously or not, I
cannot tell(, 2nown as Peagram. 7very Political Party had to have its
own ballot box, ballot papers had only Party symbols 'a hoe for *P, an
open palm for UP& and one finger for 8+( and the Party symbols were
simply glued on the top of the ballot box / an opa9ue wooden one. hen
a grass made enclosure 'akakaari(, similar to the old rural urinal places
in the schools, was built so as to hide the ballot box allegedly to ensure
secret voting so that the people in the 9ueue did not see which party you
It was in the secrecy of that polling booth that pre/tic2ed ballots would
be stuffed into the ballot box and even the labels glued on the ballot
boxes could be swapped if the officials discovered that the box of the
unwanted Party was heavier than the one of the favoured party.
On all this, you add underage voting. I neither voted in the elections of
!"#! nor the one of !"#$ because the voting age was $! years at that
time. As already pointed out above, I was !) years by the end of !"#!.
5owever, my late &omrade 7riya 8ategaya, who was only one year
older than me and, therefore, also under age, did not only vote, but he
voted 3 times according to his own admission to me later. 5e was in
UP& while, as already said, I was in *P.
hen there was the issue of &onstituency gerrymandering.
&onstituencies had no fixed boundaries. he boundaries would be made
on an ad hoc basis for each election.
his was in order to use one sectarian group to dilute the strength of
another one in terms of numbers. +ou, therefore, had a constituency li2e
An2ole 1orth 7ast. It covered the &ounties of 8ashaari, 1yabushoo.i/
8a.o and Ibanda. In the !"34 elections, some sub/counties of
1yabusho.i were ta2en to 8ashaari and the ones of Ibanda were brought
&ounting was never done on the same day. Immediately after voting, all
the boxes had to be brought to :barara, over a number of days, where
the counting was done. Along the way, a lot of mischief was done.
his is not to mention election violence and intimidation, especially by
8+ in Buganda in !"#!/#$ and UP& in the !"34 elections.
It did not ta2e long for this system to collapse. By !"#; '<ust two years
after independence(, the whole political alliance of 8+ and UP& was
tottering on the edge of collapse on account of the lost &ounties of
Bunyoro 'the now 8ibaale district( as well as parts of :ubende,
1a2asongola, 8iboga and parts of 8ayunga. =iots bro2e out, the late -ir
7dward :utesa shot seven Banyoro at 1daiga etc. By !"##, the whole
system collapsed, resulting in the suspension of the &onstitution, the
overthrow of :utesa as President of Uganda and 8aba2a of Buganda
and the abolition of the 8ingdoms 'Buganda, Bunyoro, ooro and
Busoga( as well as the other new chiefdoms that had come up ',ango,
Bugisu, etc(. hat crisis, eventually, led to the one of !")! when Amin
made a coup detat etc etc.
he sum total of all this was that by !"3#, a total of 344,444 Ugandans
had died on account of the extra 0 <udicial 2illings that followed the two
mista2es 0 sectarianism and election rigging. >> mass graves have been
preserved in the ,uwero riangle, containing )4,444 s2ulls. he
economy had shrun2 by ;4? between !")! and !"3#.
@hen, therefore, the 1=: came into Aovernment in !"3#, apart from
disciplining the Army, challenging sectarianism and repairing the
economy, our other tas2 was to try and end election rigging. @hat did
we do6 =ight from when we expanded the 1=& in !"3", we legislated
that a constituency must coincide with the existing administrative
boundaries 0 i.e. a &ounty or a cluster of sub/counties of the same
county. 1ever would, again, sub/counties of one county be transferred
to another county in order to ma2e ad hoc constituencies.
@hen it came to the Universal suffrage of !"">B";, we provided for one
ballot paper, one ballot box but in the open where every body can see,
pictures of candidates on the ballot papers, more recently we have
provided for transparent ballot boxes, counting immediately after polling
at each polling station, candidate agents at each polling station etc. @e
thought that we would eliminate election rigging in this way. o see
how much we tried to fight rigging, we, initially relied on people lining
behind candidates. It, actually wor2ed very well. @e only changed
when it came to the &A elections because of the need for secret ballot /
to protect the choice of the voters. 5owever, the wea2ness of the system
was that it was based on two factorsC integrity of election officials, on
the one hand, as well as the loyalty and vigilance of the candidate
agents. @here these three 0 integrity of the election officials, loyalty
and vigilance of the candidate agents, are lac2ing, then the whole system
collapses. @e are bac2 to !"#!, !"#$ and !"34.
7specially elements from the opposition, totally lac2ing in ideology or
mission other than thirst for power and money, engage in rigging where
the 1=: vigilance goes down. I have got information to this effect / in
the case of the bye/elections of Bushenyi, 7ntebbe, 8asese and, <ust the
other day, in ,uwero. In 8ampala it has been habitual. On the eve of
the $4!! Aeneral elections, one intelligence contact brought me election
officials in the 8ampala area who told me how the rigging was done.
@ith the collusion of election officials, somebody comes with pre/tic2ed
ballots under long sleeves and with a sign. @hen the elections official
gives him the official vote to cast, he goes to the basin where we tic2 the
votes, removes the votes under the sleeve and casts all of them as if they
are one. hen the riggers would have agreed with the corrupt election
officials to tic2 the names of the absentee voters or those who died or
shifted or even the ones still in the village so that when they come to
vote, they are told that they have already voted. If there is no strong
Party organi.ation, the peasants can be intimidated and bac2 off. his
is, of course, along with the 1=: wea2ness in terms of organi.ation.
here ought to be some party official at each polling station to cope with
these schemes. -omebody who votes should have his or her finger
dipped in indelible in2. I, however, heard that the in2 is sometimes not
indelible / that it can be washed off. In the recent case of ,uwero, a
rumour was passed around by somebody, telling voters not to wal2 to
the Polling stations. hat the 1=: will send money or vehicles for
transport. 5ence, many voters stayed at home and the corrupt election
officials, along with the criminal opposition, used the absentee names
for tic2ing in favour of the anti/1=: candidate. his is partly due to
the wea2ness within the 1=:. @hy not detect those schemes and
counter/act them using the radios6
It is for this reason that I have been insisting on computeri.ed voting for
almost $4 years / especially the use of electronically read thumb/print.
It is a pity that Africans need to be supervised by machines on account
of lac2 of integrity, lac2 of loyalty and lac2 of vigilance. I had told the
1=: &andidate in ,uwero, 1alwanga, that she must have, at least, #44
loyal colleagues of hers, one per village, to monitor these schemes. It is
bad for the opposition to cheat but it is also bad for the 1=: to be lax
After the cheating in Bushenyi, we designed a counter system to protect
the 1=: votes. 1=: agents would have their own exercise boo2s and
record by name the people that would come to vote so that we would be
able to compare with the final totaling. Of course, we would not 2now
for whom each person votedD but we would 2now that the total was so
much. @e did it in a few constituencies and it wor2ed well. 5owever,
in ,uwero, I was told by *r. :usheme.a that the 7lectoral &ommission
stopped it. @hy6 +et I have reported to the Police and the 7lectoral
&ommission all the cheatings we have unearthed.
he Opposition cheat because the 1=: has put forward a patriotic
platform and this has undermined the previous sectarian platforms of
these groups by exposing the ban2ruptcy of sectarianism. he people
loo2 with contempt and s2epticism at the pseudo/ideology of
sectarianism, male/chauvinism and general mendacity.
Instead of the Opposition learning from the people, they either concoct
lies or rig aided by the wea2nesses in the 1=:. 5owever, the law will
punish those who have made it a habit to usurp the sovereignty of the
people of Uganda by rigging. Besides, the computeri.ation will end this
new betrayal of the people as if the old mista2es were not enough.
+oweri 8aguta :useveni
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