Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Budget Committee of Parliament has questioned a request of 56.523 billion Shillings by the Electoral Commission. A portion of the funds is required to facilitate electoral activities that have already taken place.
According to EC Secretary Leonard Mulekwa, although the commission needed 93 billion Shillings to pay for the Biometric voter verification system, they only received an initial allocation of 50 billion Shillings. 43 billion Shillings is now required to clear the balance.
The other funding is needed to facilitate elections in newly created local government units, and to pay for the elections of five representatives of elderly persons in Parliament. Mulekwa says that the EC used funds from other areas to facilitate the exercises with the hope of securing a supplementary allocation from Parliament.
The electoral commission procured 38,500 Biometric Voter Verification Machines to be used for the general elections that started on January 14, with the election of the President and Members of Parliament. of these, 2,000 machines were bought while the remaining 36,500 were secured on a lease.
The machines, according to the electoral commission, were deployed to all the 34,684 polling stations to help voters to find their way to their rightful places. The device was programmed to match the voter card or national identification number of the potential vote with their biometric data to determine whether the person is eligible to vote or not.
But, it was reported, during the exercise that several biometric voter verification machines failed to verify the identity of people at polling centres during the elections. As a result, presiding officers were instructed to conduct the exercise, through manual verifications instead of relying on the machines, which slowed the process.
Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal questioned why the Electoral Commission needs all that money for machines that did not work.
However, Elijah Okupa, the Kasilo County MP asked the commission to present proof of reallocations so that MPs can acquaint themselves with the areas whose funding was used to facilitate the electoral process.
The vice-chairperson of the committee Patrick Isiagi also demanded evidence from the commission indicating that they got money from somewhere else. He says if the commission doesn’t do this, they will be forced to believe that the election budget was inflated or overstated.
Mulekwa says they will send the committee evidence that they actually need the money and spent and need to get paid.