Museveni will NOT leave power, even if he loses.

18 02 2016

Ugandans went to polls this morning to decide who takes the country’s top job. There are 8 candidates in the race but the two dominant contenders are; Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (who is trying to extend his 30 year old regime) and Forum for Democratic Change’s, Dr. Kizza Besigye (who is contending for the forth time).

Yahoo Photo. A Ugandan casting a ballot earlier today.

Yahoo Photo. A Ugandan casting a ballot earlier today.

In Kampala, the capital, voting started between 2 to 7 hours late at most of the polling stations. Voters who turned up at 6am to queue up, anticipating of start casting their votes at 7am were disappointed when they learned that the Electoral Commission (EC) had NOT delivered the ballots and other supplies on time. The voters braved the hot sun for hours waiting for the commission to deliver ballot papers and boxes. Some of the polling stations received the ballot papers 45 minutes before the 4pm, when the voting exercise was set to end. Kampala and neighboring Wakiso are believed to be opposition strongholds and the delay to deliver voting material has been viewed as a deliberate act to deny the opposition the much-anticipated victory.

Live television coverage and social media updates from various parts of the country reveal that the process was mostly peaceful but with many inexcusable glitches caused by the EC. Cases of people found in possession of pre-ticked ballot papers have been reported around Kampala and Ntungamo. In fact, one polling officer allegedly issued two pre-ticked ballots in favour of Museveni to one of the voters – this caused some tension at the polling station.

This morning, the Uganda Communications Commission issued a directive to internet and mobile money service providers to block access to Twitter, Facebook and the mobile money transfer services. The ingenious citizens were one step a head of the technologically inept commission. They resorted to VPNs and Proxies to stay connected. Some of the incidents that happened at the polling stations were exposed on social media – with video and photo evidence.

The incidents Ugandans witnessed today show the problem with “Uganda’s democracy”, it is hooked to Museveni’s influence on the entire electoral process. These incidents assert fears expressed by Museveni’s contender that the vote was rigged long before the election day.

Museveni’s regime has mastered the art of not only keeping the opposition in check but also tightened its grip on the media making it impossible for journalists to report freely and openly about issues of service delivery, let alone election irregularities. The ruling NRM party has used the loopholes in the government’s institutionalized corruption to continue tightening its grip on power. The police and the army have on several occasions made controversial stands and remarks siding with the regime.

During the campaign period, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development have shown their support to Museveni through using public funds to sponsor TV commercials that are partisan. The adverts show how the government has focused on building and equipping hospitals, and creating opportunities for the youth in the past 30 years.

Museveni’s has used national television to openly intimidate people using the rhetoric that quite frankly suggests that if Ugandans vote him out of office, there will be no peace. Infact, the Secretary General of NRM, Justine Kasule Lumumba warned “the state will kill your children” if they try to disorganize stability and she added that “the government of NRM is NOT going anywhere”.

But Uganda’s problem is far beyond voting one man, Museveni, out of power. The problem is more about getting rid of a regime that has infested every public office, media house, corporate company with its own ideals and priorities at the expense of the needs and freedom of Ugandans.

Uganda has a very painful past and many quite frankly agree that let Museveni rule until he is tired. Ugandans just want peace and a peaceful transfer of power. This does not mean that many or even majority of Ugandans do not want change, but every time this discussion comes up the big question remains:

“At what cost?”

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Uganda Electoral Commission under pressure over 20K “ghost voters”

12 02 2016

A recent data analysis that found discrepancies in the Uganda Electoral Commission voter count has put some voters on high alert, and consequently increased the anxiety about the upcoming presidential elections.

The data on Electoral Commission (EC) had indicated that there are 15,297,197 registered voters in Uganda. On the contrary, an independent data analysis found a 20,000 voter error margin. Here is another blog showing how we exposed the discrepancies and TMS Ruge’s breakdown of the data.

The Electoral Commission was notified about the discrepancies immediately. Instead of giving a detailed account of what happened, the commission made demeaning remarks – arguing that the analysis was baseless.

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But this was not good enough for the Ugandans who were eager to know what was going on.  They continued to pressure the EC through its official Twitter account, demanding that the issue should be taken seriously. In the meantime, media houses started reporting on this issue – pressure was mounting on the commission.

The Spokes person of the commission, Jotham Taremwa finally agreed – that this was a “statistical error”.

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WHAT THE DATA ANALYSIS REVEALED:

Analysis of voter data per polling station revealed that some polling stations had way more (some over 400) voters than they should have while others had way less.

At Nkokonjeru Primary School, a polling station in Ruharo Parish, Mbarara District; the Electoral Commission data shows that there are 436 Female Voters and 359 Male Voters – the total voter count (Female + Male) =387. Once we analyzed the data, we found that 408 voters were not accounted for.

At Nyamitanga Muslim Pri Sch, in Katete Parish, Mbarara District; the data indicated that there are 247 Female Voters and 202 Male Voters – the total voter count according to the commission = 900. Our analysis found that this was NOT correct.

Ghost Voter-Mbarara

Overall I personally came to the conclusion that there are probably not just 20,000 ghost voters but many more. If the Electoral Commission indicates that there are 387 voters at a given polling station and yet when I add number of Female (436) + (359) Male voters at the same polling station I get 795 I cannot help but wonder where the commission put the missing 408.

This morning (11, February), the commission quietly took down its website and removed the document we analyzed and replaced it with a new document with changes that seem to address the concerns we had. Well, some tweeps noticed that the website was down, which forced the EC to make this lame excuse.

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FAST FORWARD

With just 5 days to the polls I am not convinced that the commission is prepared to handle emerging issues especially when they involve discrepancies.

If the commission failed to compute the sum of a couple of hundreds (as indicated above), how can they convince Ugandans that they are ready to tally millions of votes from over 28,010 polling stations country wide?

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EC went into a coma after we published a simple analysis of data they should have crosschecked and rechecked many months and weeks ago. If anything, this shows how unprepared the commission is.

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Even though the commission has finally realized that our analysis was NOT baseless (as it originally claimed) – seeing that EC has updated its data to match our figures, the manner in which they did it is unacceptable. With no explanation to the public. What is even worse, in the latest version of data, EC has eliminated the columns showing the number of Male and Female voters per polling station leaving just the total voter count per polling station.

Taking away the demographics makes it impossible for us or anyone else to do further analysis – and that is probably what the EC wants. But, this does not mean that there are no more loopholes in the voter registers.

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“Luckily”, the EC has procured handheld Biometric Voter Verification Systems and they are expected to catch any anomalies the commission might have missed. But, I have a feeling that at many of the polling stations, especially the rural ones (which are the majority in number), they will have to rely on the paper based register – because (sometimes) technology fails.

For now, I will keep crunching the voter register data as I anxiously await for the EC to deliver its promise of a “free and fair election”!





Museveni’s word against Mbabazi’s: Let the scapegoating begin

16 06 2015

This morning I watched President Museveni’s reaction to Mbabazi’s 2016 presidential bid and I think that the president rushed it. The president used 18 minutes to respond to Mbabazi’s 5 minutes declaration – now given that much time, I expected the president to deliver much more than the anger and scapegoating portrayed in his video. I expected to hear what the president would do differently if Ugandans gave him another chance to keep the top job, instead;

  • The president seemed rather too angry and frustrated to address the country. If you watched the video you probably noticed that the president was even rude to his aids who were helping him to deliver this speech (see minutes 4:41 and 5:00).
  • Museveni argues that Mbabazi should be held responsible for government’s failure to deliver its promises. Well, the president could be right but then again did it take the president 10 years to learn that Mbabazi was “not performing”?

If this is how the president is going to handle the presidential campaigns, looks like we are headed for a long rough ride – the same rhetoric that has failed governance and obstructed accountability. It looks like all the dirty linen is going public – the NRM will exonerate itself from all the failed government projects, name the officials who failed to deliver [just like the president did in his reaction to Mbabazi] and that will probably be a good thing. I mean, the famous “Temangalo” story is coming back to haunt Mbabazi and I am sure he has his own version of the story and I am quite eager to hear more about it but I am also interested in mature politics – blackmail does NOT count as mature.

The problem with this kind of politics or electioneering is it does not seek to improve service delivery or accountability, instead it is manipulative. It’s only aim is to create an enemy safe to hate to protect the party.

I hope that the presidential candidates will reduce on the amount of scapegoating, take responsibility where they have gone wrong – failed to deliver and most importantly convince Ugandans that they have the vision to “nurse the tired country”.

I hope that Mr. President will not be inclined to think that I am “misusing social media” when one of his “young people” show him this blog post!