A number of questions regarding the legitimacy of the 2021 general elections held in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic remain unanswered. Key stakeholders in the country’s electoral process including the voters, opposition leaders, civil society organizations and other political actors continue to raise concerns over the unfair management of the 2021 elections. Opposition protests and threats, as well as the emergence of ethnic and regional divides following the overwhelming support for the National Unity Platform in Central and some parts of Eastern Uganda, have caused additional strain on the country’s democratic space leading to heightened political tension.
As an institution that seeks to contribute to solutions to the different political challenges affecting Uganda and other countries across the African Continent, the Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre (JNLC) at Makerere University, with support from Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) on 15th April 2021 held a workshop to plan for the 2021 post-election seminar series. The workshop was attended by academics and representatives from civil society organizations namely; Dr Suzie Nansozi Muwanga, former Head, Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Makerere University and Director JNLC; Ms Anna Reismann, KAS Country Director; Dr Josephine Ahikire, Principal College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS); Dr Kabumba Busingye from the School of Law, Makerere University; Prof. Sabiti Makara, Dr Julius Kiiza, Dr Sallie Simba Kayunga and Dr Phillip Kasaija Apuuli from the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Makerere University; Dr Sarah Ssali from the School of Women and Gender Studies, Makerere University; and Dr Badru Bukenya from the Department of Social Work and Social Administration, Makerere University. Others included; Ms Jacqueline Asiimwe, Chief Executive Officer CivSource Africa; Dr Moses Isooba, Executive Director, NGO Forum; Ms. Irene Ikomu, an Independent Consultant; Mr. Henry Kasacca, Series Administrator from Dialogue and Democracy Training Centre, and Mr. Nicholas Opolot L’akwang, Programme Manager at Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
The main objective of the seminar series is to provide a platform for in-depth analysis and informed discussions on a number of issues around the 2021 elections. The Centre (JNLC) intends to hold the seminars around 6 thematic areas including; the Impact of COVID-19 on the 2021 elections; the Electoral Management Processes, Rules, Practices and the Post-election Period; the Role of Civil Society in Elections; Political Parties, Multiparty Politics and Electoral Democracy; Youth Engagement, Disengagement and Sweeping Political Change; and the Role of Mainstream and Social Media in Electoral Processes.
During the half-day blended workshop held at Makerere University and moderated by Dr Suzie Nanzozi Muwanga, and Ms. Anna Reismann, participants interrogated each thematic area with a view of setting a strong basis for research that will guide discussions on the 2021 polls. Basing on the thematic areas, researchers will thoroughly examine factors influencing the changing voter demographics, the issues that shape youth political engagement in Uganda, the Independence of the Electoral Commission and other political institutions, monetization of elections, the militarization of elections, the misuse of laws in electoral processes, the checks and balances civil society organizations can offer across the political spectrum, and the diminishing role of civil society organizations in electoral processes. Other factors to be examined include the challenges and opportunities for new political parties, the weakening of traditional political parties, the impact of identity and culture on election results, the raise of social movements and their impact on the electoral processes, the importance of structures in political organization, the politicization of pandemics and their effect on elections, the possibility of conducting free and fair elections in a hybrid regime, and the influence of traditional and new media on the country’s electoral processes.
The research and subsequent seminar series are intended to address the challenges that have for long affected the country’s electoral processes, thereby undermining the democratization process.
The seminars will be coordinated by Dr Suzie Nansozi Muwanga, Series Administrator at the Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre and Mr. Henry Kasacca, Series Administrator at Konrad Adenauer Stiftung with support from Ms. Winnie Nakazibwe and other administrators at JNLC.
About the Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre
The Julius Nyerere Leadership Centre (JNLC), named after the late President Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere of Tanzania is a Presidential initiative, inaugurated by H.E the President of the Republic of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on 6th October 2018. It was envisioned to provide a unique cross-generational platform, Ekyoto where periodic debates would tap into the lived and rice experiences of Ugandan and other African leaders in different fields. The overall objective of the JNLC is to develop a lasting legacy for learning and leadership development in Uganda and on the African Continent. Specific objectives relate to activities that emphasize the central theme of unity in diversity and responsible socio-economic development: Researching and disseminating the governance and leadership philosophy, policies, values and practices of African presidents; and Promoting a community of academic expertise and youth engagement in governance and leadership in Africa. Activities include; presidential lectures and seminar series to provide a unique opportunity for distinguished leaders to mentor and nurture future leaders; lectures and seminar series that allow national and international scholars and activists to present significant aspects of their work; youth leadership training and mentorship programmes; policy leading research that brings together academics, policy-makers, activists, analysts and political leaders; and inter-university youth leadership debates.