Kampala – The Chairman for Electoral Commission Justice Justice Simon Byamukama has on Thursday met with Ugandan Online Media owners to introduce partnership plans of the commission to empower the vote education for the forthcoming scientific elections.
In a meeting held at the EC headquarters in Kampala, the Chairman revealed that the commission resorted to the scientific mode of campaigns to ensure the ultimate exercise of the guidelines put in place by the Ministry of Health (MoH) to fight Covid.
Byamukama emphasized that there is no way you can ensure social distancing and washing of hands in a crowded electoral campaign and it’s in this regard that EC resolved to utilize online resources for the 2021 elections.
EC is seeking to fully engage the online media platforms which mainly include online newspapers, Facebook pages, twitter to sensitize and educate the public about the vote education.
Online media owners appreciated the EC for realizing the power of their services and the opportunity to formally partner with them to empower a national cause.
In the past years, government organizations have not been working so closely with the online media and supporting their services. Their main focus has always been on partnering with the mainstream media channels like the TVs, radios and print media which can’t actually fully serve the purpose now due to the situation caused by COVID -19.
However, the online media owners have asked the commission to appropriately consider their services in its budget in order to effectively support EC’s initiatives.
There are increasing reactions from the voters and different political aspirants about the EC’s decision to forego the physical campaigns to scientific internet-based campaign for the 2021 elections terming it to be ineffective and very limited in terms of voter engagement.
It is on this point that Sir Simon Muyanga Lutaaya of SML Media asked the chairman EC to take an initiative to meet the different political leaders and aspirants to share their views and or an alternative to that resolved by the commission.
Muyanga also expressed a concern that most of the Ugandan media agencies are owned NRM bigwigs and staunch supporters of the ruling party something which may really affect the opposition aspirants from accessing these services for their campaigns.
Byamukama promised to appropriately cater for the online media services in the budgets of the commission which would see the dissemination of the online digital content for the electoral activities improved.
He also trashed allegations that the EC agreed with President Museveni to organize the scientific elections saying EC follows the laws governing it and this was done in the favor of abiding by the measures put in place by MoH to curb COVID-19.
“We are also going to address the issue of the most media agencies being owned NRM bigwigs and religious organizations through the media governing bodies,” added the Justice Byamukama.
On 16th June 2020, the EC released a revised electoral Roadmap, the first of its kind since it the electoral campaign duration has been shortened and mass rallies prohibited due to the Covid-19 threat.
The Commission will avail nomination forms on its website that can be printed by those with access to the internet. However, for those with no access to internet hard copies will be availed.
Polling is set to take place between January 10 next year and February 8. The EC says the exact dates for polling will be announced in due course.
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