Ugandan representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) want the government to call-off preparations for the 2021 general elections and concentrate its efforts on fighting the further spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Paul Musamali and Denis Namara, two of the nine representatives to the regional parliament addressed journalists at the Parliamentary buildings in Kampala on Wednesday.
“We need to have a serious debate as a country as to whether we should have elections in 2021. My position is that we should postpone the elections because our economy, so far, is limping because of this pandemic,” Musamali said.
What is not clear is whether this is the general view of all the nine representatives to EALA, but Musamali claimed to be standing in the shoes of George Odongo, the chairperson of the Uganda chapter at EALA.
“As we talk, the country is not in production, we are on a standstill because of the measures that were announced to curtail the spread of the pandemic A lot of money has been rechanneled to fight the scourge; I am convinced that Uganda as a country, we will not be able to fight this pandemic at the same time hold elections,” Musamali said.
The two suggested that the elections be pushed to 2023 to give time to the government and the populace to revamp the economy.
“We cannot go into electioneering [because] a lot of money is spent on elections. What the government spends… in 2016, the budget was more than Shs 400 billion, and for the 2021 elections, the budget can go to even a trillion shillings,” Namara argued.
Away from the COVID-19 pandemic, Namara also invited the country to focus on the locusts invasion which he says spells doom for the country as it poses a food security challenge that requires the government to save and reallocate funds to the critical sectors of the economy.
“We need to prepare ourselves until we are ready to revitalize the economy. That requires the government to do a lot of saving, and, in any case, elections can come anytime; 2023 is not far, we need to first survive as a people,” Namara said.
Their call to extend the 2021 elections is not new. In December 2017, Parliament passed an amendment to the Constitution extending the current term of by two years but the amendment was quashed the Constitutional Court.