WORKERS MPS FACE STIFF CHALLENGE IN 2021 ELECTIONS
By the Workers Eye Team
Elections for Members of Parliament representing Workers in 2021 will be the toughest and probably the most expensive ever since special Interest groups were introduced in 1996. What has complicated matters for the contestants ,both the incumbents and the new aspirants, is the revised roadmap to the 2020/2021 General Elections which is to be conducted scientifically. Voters, both unionized and non unionized must be reached through the media outlet including using the traditional radio, television and print media plus social media platforms like facebook, whatsapp and twitter.
The five incumbent Workers Members of Parliament who contesting include former Sports State Minister Hon Charles Bakkabulindi, Hon Arinaitwe Rwakajara, Hon Margaret Rwabushaija Namubiru, Hon Dr Sam Lyomoki and Female Workers Member of Parliament Hon Agnes Kunihira. National Organisation of Trade Unions (NOTU) Chairman General Mr Usher Wilson Owere is part of the new entrants aspiring for the five slots on the Workers Members of Parliament. The others are Uganda Public Employees Union (UPEU) Chairperson and National Council of Sports (NCS) board member Ms Agatha Namirembe, Uganda Infrastructure Union General Secretary Mr Robert Wanzusi Matukhu, and Artisans Union General Secretary Counsel Anthony Wanyama. Uganda Scientists and Researchers Union Trustee Dr Abdul Byakatonda is also in the race plus NOTU Secretary for Women Committee who is also National Treasurer Nurses Union Ms Annet Birungi, who is contesting as Female Workers Member of Parliament.
Aspiring candidates have concentrated on promoting themselves with flyers and posters distributed widely on social media workers’ platforms. But before and after the Uganda Electoral Commission declared Scientific campaigns and elections it became prudent that the social media forums would be one of the main platforms for campaigns. Candidates contesting for Parliament representing workers are now involved in extensive online campaigns with persuasive information characterized with their rhetoric that includes text messages, posters, flyers, and photographs promoting themselves even before the Covid-19 pandemic was reported in Uganda. Social media platforms used by the workers include the NRM Workers League, Labour Together Platform:, Workers Media Center, National Workers Platform, Equal Opportunity Group, Workers Platform 2017, NOTU General Secretaries and NOTU Think Tank. NOTU Chairman General Mr Usher Wilson Owere was the first to announce his intentions to contest for a Parliamentary seat on a Workers’ in a well - attended colourful ceremony last March at Kampala Serena hotel.
Mr Wilson Owere said he has joined the race for Parliament representing workers after making consultations with trade union leaders and workers in the country. He said he has not joined the race for Parliament to fight any of the outgoing Workers Members of Parliament but has come in as a dangerous substitute to bolster and score goals for the team.
“I have not joined the race to fight any of the incumbent but I want bolster and score goals for the team,” he said. The down – to earth trade union leader largely seen as a “trade mark” for the ordinary worker, said he is going make use of vast experience at NOTU to serve the members efficiently. Workers Member of Parliament and former Sports State Minister Hon Charles Bakkabulindi told the Workers Eye that he wants to accomplish unfinished projects for Labour unions in the country..
“ I would want to accomplish unfinished projects for Labour Unions in the country. You don’t just change a winning team,” he said He said he built a foundation for trade unions and capacity for Labour unions to flourish high with structures for enhancing creativity, self reliance and sustaining projects. Hon Bakkabulindi, the longest – serving and the most successful Sports Minister Uganda has had in 34 years, said he would like to consolidate gains made in the Labour movement, and serve workers better amidst growing challenges. Workers Member of Parliament Hon Arinaitwe Rwakajara said he worked tirelessly with his tabling of a Private Members’ bill to ensure a Minimum Wage was enacted but was let down by the President’s decline to sign it into law. He said he would like the workers to vest their trust in him with a “return ticket” to the House so that he actualizes the long – awaited Minimum Wage, which has eluded workers for a long time.
“ I want workers to trust me with a “return ticket” to the House so that I actualizes the long – awaited Minimum Wage, which has eluded workers for a long time,” he said. Hon Rwakajara, who is Chief Executive Officer at the Labour Colleague of East Africa, said he would put more emphasis on training trade union leaders in the country. Workers Member of Parliament Hon Margaret Rwabushaija Namubiru said as an educationist she would like to strengthen existing programs on capacity building of Labour unions and development of human resource managers
“ I would like to strengthen existing programs on capacity building of Labour unions and development of human resource managers,” she said. New entrant in the race Mr Robert Wanzusi Matukhu said he is contesting with an aim of liberating workers from captivity, adding for a long time trade union leaders are not free to exercise their constitutional rights.
“ I want to contesting with an aim of liberating workers from political captivity so that Labour unions can negotiate and decide for their members without fear or favour,’he said. MS Agatha Namirembe said she would like give workers fresh ideas on creativity and practical innovations on matters pertaining to allocation of scarce resources in a challenging world.
“ I want give workers fresh ideas on creativity and practical innovations on matters pertaining to allocation of scarce resources in a challenging world,” she said. But Female Workers Member of Parliament Hon Agnes Kunihira said she has made significant gains in the 2016 – 2021 term as far as effective representation and efficient service delivery is concerned. She said there are massive long – term investments made in building capacity for Labour unions, creating awareness on emancipation of women, gender mainstreaming, employment trends and Labour rights.
“ I have built capacity of Labour Unions and empowered women to prove themselves in striving for equal opportunities available,” she said. Ms Annet Birungi, who is challenging Hon Agnes Kunihira as Female Workers Member of Parliament in 2021, said she has been on the forefront of promoting programs for eliminating gender based violence. She said: “ If elected to Parliament I shall ensure women have a voice to vie for existing opportunities and to fight for their rights at workplaces and at home.” When Government declared a nationwide lockdown on the 23rd day of March, 2020,, the Commission was already implementing preliminary activities under the Roadmap for the 2020/2021 General Elections. The commission was also updating and displaying the National Voters register and registers for Special Interest groups. .
But after consultations with, and expert guidance from the Ministry of Health, the Commission has considered and approved a revised Roadmap for the 2020/2021 General Elections This Revised Roadmap highlights the dates for commencement of various key electoral activities, namely, nominations, campaigns and polling for various elective positions, Presidential, General Parliamentary and Local Government Councils. The Roadmap also highlights the period for conduct of elections for Special Interest Groups (Persons with Disability, Older Persons and Youth) Committees from Village to National Levels.