Voters Decry Flawed Workers Elections

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Participants in this week's elections for workers' parliamentary representatives say they are unhappy about the manner in which the vote was held.

They are demanding a review of the current Electoral College voting system to allow full representation of all registered trade unions in the country.

The workers' Electoral College is drawn from the National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU) and the Central Organization of Free Trade Unions of Uganda (COFTU). Both organizations claim to have legitimacy from the State to organize and participate in elections.

During the polls that were held at Mandela National Stadium Namboole, a controversy arose over how many representatives from each organization would be allowed to vote. After much debate, it was agreed that they would each contribute 215 people to the voters' register for the pivotal workers' woman representative.

However once the election results were announced, members of COFTU cried foul.

Mary Marion Tunde, the incumbent MP, won the election with 189 votes. Tunde, who is allied to NOTU, beat her closest rival, Agnes Kunihira of COFTU by a margin of just over 40 votes.

Several members of the Central Organization of Free Trade Unions claim that the voting was rigged to weed out Kunihira's support. They say that irregularities in defining who had a right to vote cost their organization the vital seat in Parliament.

Voting for workers' MPs was also marred by complaints over money. There was a large outcry about delays in paying allowances for transport, accommodation and food for voters from upcountry.

Soon, a campaign spread to boycott the elections if the money was not paid.

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Shortly before 5 p.m. yesterday, Electoral Commission accountants rushed in to Namboole with a bag of money. Although this allowed voting to proceed as scheduled, it wasn't enough to assuage the anger of people already dissatisfied with the redtape and inconsistencies in voting.

The other workers' parliamentary seats were won by Charles Bakkabulindi, Theopista Ssentongo , Arianaitwe Katambuka.