Some news from Geoff in Kabubbu…
It’s not every day you get to win a local election in Kabubbu – or even in Uganda! A recent election was held for the equivalent of the Chair of the local Parish Council in the UK. A very important person in every Ugandan village like Kabubbu, known as Chair LC1 – and it was 25 years ago when these elections were last held!!
It was to be a simple process because the national government had no finance to give to make it a secret ballot.
The election officer arrived in the morning at a field in Kabubbu where the potential voters and two candidates had gathered. He passed out voting slips, which he signed, to those named on the voting register who had their national identity card available. The two candidates stood 30 yards apart at one end of the field facing away from the crowd. At 11 am, on a signal from the election officer, the crowd moved to stand behind which candidate they wished to vote for. A representative of each candidate plus the election officer collected the voting slip of each person in each line. The slips were counted and the winner announced. The slips put into one of two envelopes, sealed, each one with the candidate’s name on it. The envelopes put into the charge of the police.
The challenger candidate won by 187 votes to the current Chair candidate’s 94 votes. The crowd erupted picking up the winner and carried him around the field (centre of picture) – hooting, hollering and cheering! Change was coming to Kabubbu!
The losing candidate complained of voting fraud. The candidates and a representative of each met at the police station. The complaining candidate’s envelope of votes opened in front of all. The voting slips examined. There were many without the election officer’s signature on them. The complaining candidate had to back down from his complaint.
In an attempt to ensure he would win, we understand he had been out the night before ‘under darkness’ and handed out voting slips along with a 10,000 Shilling note to many people in an attempt to buy votes. Unfortunately, he had not bargained for the election officer signing all legitimate voting slips handed out on the morning of the election.
So, a new dawn for Kabubbu, a new Chair and, according to a large number of the electorate, the hope of less corruption and a more honest leadership.