With hardly a few months to the elections scheduled between January and February next year, the proposal by the Electoral Commission to ban open-air campaigns ahead of the 2021 campaigns and general election continues to draw mixed reactions from politicians, opinion leaders, media analysts and the world at large. However, with the revised 2021 election road map, the Electoral Commission seems to have settled for having no open-air campaigns in line with the Ministry of Health guidelines that prohibits mass gatherings in order to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Speaking at one of the media briefs, Justice Simon Byabakama Mugenyi, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission informed journalists that they have settled for ‘scientific elections’ come 2021 because they don’t have the power to change article 61 (2) of the constitution which commands them to organize elections within 120 days before the expiry of the term of president, parliament or local government.
The road to 2021 elections seems a rocky one with numerous uncertainties. President Yoweri Museveni while commenting on the issue at hand in an interview had this to say: “If the virus can stop by June or July, we can have the elections. We don’t have to have a long campaign time. If it doesn’t, it is very dangerous. To have elections when the virus is still there will be madness. Countries like Iran went on with the elections when the virus was still around and it caused a lot of problems. It is very dangerous,” he said.
However, as Uganda mourns the unfortunate deaths of her COVID-19 patients, and the unlikely end of the disease, the president’s view that “… the gathering for the elections themselves, can be safely managed with hand-washing, social-distancing or leaving gaps of the necessary metres between voters in line,” might be a hard reality to many. You will read our political analysis and the warning by Angelo Izama that as the country continues vying for ‘scientific’ elections; we should keep in mind that ‘dead people cannot vote.’
Likewise, Fr. Jean-Marie Nsambu reminds us all that the Church, which is the pillar and mainstay of the truth, and not least Church leaders, must rediscover their voice, and with all the audacity redirect society to life. One of the most powerful images in the life of Jesus is when he washes his disciples’ feet in John 13.
After, Jesus tells them, “You call me teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Jesus refers to leadership as a relationship; he talks about servant-leadership, for great leaders focus on serving those who follow them. Great leaders have those they lead in mind in whatever they do. In fact, it is service above self.
Prophet Isaiah appeals to each one of us that, “come let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5). As we tread through the thorny road of the election season, we must remember that Leadership comes from God (Rom. 13:1) and it is therefore prudent to allow the will of God to work in our leaders to discern what is good and evil (see 1 Kings 3:5, 7-12).
We pray that the good Lord may prepare us to do whatever we do, in word or deed, to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17). And, like John the Baptist, all of us must be able to live and die for the truth.
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