Voting Delays At Polling Stations Across Kampala Over Late Delivery of Materials

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"People normally don't vote when it is raining we hope that they will come later on to vote," he said. In Nakawa East, the situation was the same. At St Mbagga Primary School in Kiwatule with 5 polling stations, by 8:00, am voting had begun at only one polling station.
Voting had not started at City House polling station in Kampala Central Division by 8 am. Photo by Olive Nakatudde
The elections for division mayors and councillors started late at several polling stations in Kampala city visited by our reporters. According to the Electoral Commission guidelines, voting was scheduled to start at 7 am and stop at 4 pm. However, by 7 am, voting had not yet started at several polling stations visited by our teams. At Kampala Hill Academy in Kyebando Nsoba, agents and a few voters were still stuck outside the gate by 7 am. 

The police constable at the gate asked them to wait on the other side of the road since the voting material had not yet been delivered. At St. Paul's Primary School in Kyebando Central, voting had not started by 7:25 am. Polling Assistants were still setting the polling stations. They were seen carrying desks from classrooms to arrange the polling stations while the polling agents looked on outside the gate. Security blocked the polling agents from accessing the voting areas, saying they would only be allowed once polling assistants were done with settings the stations.

At Kampala Quality Primary School voting had not started by 7:30 am. Although materials had been delivered, polling Assistants said they didn't have the biometric machines, which agents insisted should be availed before voting could start. They agreed to wait for the delivery of the machines before the voting process could commence. At Homisdallen Primary School, the voting material was still being offloaded by 7:40 am as the agents were also being briefed on one side. Voting had not yet started by 8am.   

The situation wasn’t any different in Nakawa division. By 7:00 am, voting had not yet begun voting at several polling stations sampled by our reporters. Polling stations received voting material early enough, but there were no voters. While at some polling stations, the polling assistants were demarcating the designated area. At Ssentamu Kavule polling station in Nakawa, voting had not yet started by 7:20 am.  The polling assistant Ibrahim Ssentongo told URN that they were waiting for voters.

"The weather is bad and I think voters are scared. At any time, it might rain again," he said. The same situation was found at Mbuya Church of Uganda polling station, Jambula A-M polling Station where a light shower began at 7:30 am. By 8:00 am, polling officials were seated on the verandas near the polling station as they waited for the drizzle to stop. John Agaba at Jambula says the rain has disorganised the day.

"People normally don't vote when it is raining we hope that they will come later on to vote," he said. In Nakawa East, the situation was the same. At St Mbagga Primary School in Kiwatule with 5 polling stations, by 8:00, am voting had begun at only one polling station. Waswa Mukiibi, one of the few voters who braved the bad weather to go cast his vote at Kisaasi Muslim Secondary School, said he had to carry out his constitutional right.

"This is where I pass on my way to work so I decided to first vote before I go to work. I was scared that it might start raining when am here but I took faith. The people are few like last week but I think they will come during the day, “he said. The race for Nakawa division mayor is between the Forum for Democratic Change-FDC candidate, Daniel Musoke, National Unity Platform-NUP candidate, Paul Mugambe and NRM’s Bruhan Byaruhanga. 

In the central division, several polling stations visited by our reporter had not yet received polling materials by 7:00 am while those with materials had not kicked off the exercise.  At 7:10 am, polling officials at Crested Towers polling station were seen inspecting voting materials as agents of different candidates witnessed the process.

The nearby polling station at the National Theatre had its polling officials and candidate agents look on helplessly by 7:40 am amid the threatening heavy downpour.   These had not yet arranged the polling station and the voting material was still intact. The polling assistants were later seen walking to the shade at the National Theatre building in fear of what could happen if it started raining.

Meanwhile, in Kamwokya, by 6:30 am polling agents and officials had arrived at the different polling station but the voting material was nowhere to be seen. At KCCA Primary Schook (MUH-Z), TLC leisure centre  (NAL-O)  and TLC leisure Centre (P-Z) the materials had not yet arrived.

Nicholas Katumba, a polling agent of Hamudan Ssemugoma, who is contesting for the Kampala Central Mayoral seat under the National Unity Platform- NUP, says the late delivery of vote material is unfair to the electorate.  "I don't know why materials always come late in Kamwokya yet the ten people who are supposed to check the materials to enable voting start are here but the materials are yet to reach. We are told the materials are supposed to be at polling Station by 6:00 am," said Katumba.  

David Imo, a polling agent of Bwambale Francisco, who is contesting for the Kamwokya councillor’s seat equally said he was at the TLC leisure center polling Station by 6:00 am but the voting material wasn’t there. "We have been here from 6:00 am but we don't know why materials always delay. The same incident happened during the presidential elections and the last week's election, why?" he asked.

At Kamwokya Community (NAN-Z) polling station, the electoral officers were found organizing the polling station around  Francis Mbazira and his colleague Isaac Ssempala, the polling agents of Charles Musoke Sserunjogi, the incumbent Kampala Central Mayor expressed disappointment that more than five voters who wanted to cast their votes and go for work had left without voting. 

"The unfairness starts in the morning with the delayed delivery of voting material, now those people will not come back. This is Kampala, people come to vote and rush back to their jobs," said Mbazira. Those vying for the Kampala Central Division mayor race is the incumbent, Charles Sserunjogi from the Democratic Party, Salim Uhuru, National Resistance Movement- NRM party ticket, independent candidate, Patrick Mukasa and Ssemugoma Hamudan of National Unity Platform-NUP.