Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The absence of funding has dashed the hopes of several youths in Tooro sub-region to contest for elective positions. Some of the affected youths missed nominations for parliamentary seats while those who got nominated are struggling to print posters or get media space for campaigns.
In Fort Portal tourism city, Thomas Kakuru who was selected as the National Unity Platform-NUP candidate for the Northern Division parliamentary race missed nomination after failing to raise the Shillings 3 million nomination fees. In 2015, Parliament amended the Parliamentary Elections Act and increased the nomination fees for Members of Parliament-MPs from Shillings 200,000 to 3 million.
Kakuru says that even though he had already traversed the area looking for support, the nomination fee became a huge obstacle which forced him to drop out of the race. “The financial criteria that has been used to test the capability of a person to run as an MP is a direct assault to the youths who also want to take part in politics and determine the direction of their country. It is meant to exclude youths from fair representation and participation in the democratic leadership process.” Kakuru says.
In Bunyangabu district, Joram Kisembo also failed to present himself for nomination as the NUP candidate for the Bunyangabu parliamentary seat due to failure to raise the nomination fees. He says that he had been able to recruit at least 1,400 agents and campaign managers but didn’t have money by the time of nominations. Kisembo says that he has now embarked on campaigning for the party presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu.
“If I rally behind another opposition candidate or independent, my supporters will think that I have been bribed or compromised in a certain way. So since Bunyangabu has no NUP candidate in the parliamentary race, I will continue mobilizing support for my presidential flag bearer,” he said.
Leonidas Mwesigye had intentions of joining the Kitagwenda county parliamentary race. He says that he had already printed a few posters and since he was also an NUP flag bearer, he was counting on the party for financial support especiall, the nomination fees. He however says he dropped out the race since the party didn’t give him the money.
Innocent Natukunda is the NUP coordinator in Tooro sub-region. According to Natukunda, he almost missed the nominations for the Mwenge North parliamentary race if it wasn’t for well-wishers who supported his candidature financially. He reveals that over 10 NUP candidates for different parliamentary seats in Tooro missed nominations which he blames on financial constraints.
Natukunda says that he is now unable to print posters or buy media space that goes for about Shillings 600,000 Shillings an hour after exhausting his savings.
In order to enable meaningful youth participation in elective politics, the youths want the financial requirements to either be revised or scrapped completely.