Crowded Parliamentary Races: Some Candidates Are Unknown to Voters

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Alex Katoora, a resident of Ntinda in Nakawa Division West told URN that he only knows three out of the 14 nominated parliamentary candidates in his area.
crowded races

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Over 53 constituencies across the country have attracted more than nine parliamentary candidates. Analysis of statistics obtained from the Electoral Commission indicates that Jinja North Division has the highest number of contestants with 17 candidates struggling to woo voters on their side.

Nakawa West, Samia Bugwe North and Kigulu County North are also crowded with 14 candidates each. Other constituencies with many candidates include Rubaga South and Laroo Pece Division with 13 followed by Bbaale County, Lira West Division and Busia Municipality with 12 candidates each. 

The newly created Mbale and Jinja cities have the highest number of women parliamentary candidates with 12 each. The two are followed by Soroti City with 11 candidates.  Our reporters visited some of the crowded constituencies in Kampala Metropolitan area and Jinja city only to find that some of the contestants are unknown to voters in some of the areas. 

The situation is complicated further by the fact that some of the candidates are yet to pin-up campaign posters to stamp their presence.   Some of the voters interviewed by our reporters were surprised to learn that their constituencies had attracted a huge number of contestants. Alex Katoora, a resident of Ntinda in Nakawa Division West told URN that he only knows three out of the 14 nominated parliamentary candidates in his area.

“I think there like three people,” he replied when asked when he knows the number of parliamentary candidates in his constituency. When told by URN that there are 14 people vying for the Nakawa Division West parliamentary seat, Katoora seemed very surprised.  “Did you say 14? Where did the others come from and who are they?” he asked.   

Adding that “at least I would have seen their posters,” Katoora said. Vincent Matovu, a voter in Rubaga South says he is aware that the race is crowded given the fact that he heard on the news that they are about 12 people seeking to replace the incumbent, Paul Kato Lubwama. 

Despite this, Matovu, says only a few of the candidates have pinned up their posters but two are vigorously campaigning. 

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Denis Isabirye, resident of Bugembe in Jinja North Division notes that the known candidates are those running on party tickets.

He says given the nature of the scientific campaigns, some of the candidates lack money to buy air space yet they are unknown to voters.  

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Sam Waiswa, another resident of Jinja North wonders where the seventeen candidates are coming from. To him, the number points to the fact that vying for a parliamentary seat is becoming a joke.  

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Most races are crowded due to the surge in the number of independents. For instance, Jinja North division alone has got 12 independents followed by Samia Bugwe County North with 11 independents and Kigulu County South with 10 Independents.

Bbale County, Nakawa West and Kigulu North have nine independent candidates each. Several political analysts blame the huge number of independents on the failure of internal party democracy mostly in the National Resistance Movement-NRM and National Unity Platform. 

  Veteran politician Ken Lukyamuzi, who is also caught up in the crowded Rubaga south parliamentary race, says that in some areas the crowds reflect the dare need for change as different candidates feel that the incumbent might be lacking and therefore come to take charge.      

“I am not saying this focusing on Rubaga south. A strong incumbent, the one whom people think is playing his or role well, will never have a crowded race as a few people will rise to put up a challenge. It is directly opposite to the weaker one, everyone would want to replace him thus the crowded race,” Lukyamuzi told Uganda Radio Network.  

Felix Kafuuma, the Programs Officer Alliance for Finance Monitoring (ACFIM) links the crowded races to the perceived profitability of politics in Uganda. Kafuuma says even when the cost of running campaigns is increasing, more people are seeking political offices with the hope of reaching the serving table.     

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