The Cost of Election Petition
From elections and now election petitions as either party efforts to retain their seats or transpose what was announced in the January polls. Politicians have had no smooth run at all.
But those who have already been there are now warning petitioners to brace for a bumpy ride saying the road to electoral justice is an expensive haul.
The road to electoral justice is a intense and expensive journey, one former woman mp for Luwero district, Brenda Nabukenya will forever live to tell the complicated journey of filling a petition.
In the 5 years within her tenure, Nabukenya battled 3 petitions, one contesting her win in the general election, one from nominations and another contesting her name.
This saw her participate in 4 elections , 2 by elections and 2 general elections.
“I used to go to court 4 times a week while I also needed to be in parliament.”
Nabukenya decries the emotional and financial stress that came with the petitions.
“I spent close to 120m for the 4 years I spent in court, I won one petition lost 3 petitions had to pay costs for all.”
And for the ongoing election petitions, 1.2bn shillings has been put aside to finance the judges allowances and accommodation.
In addition, the Judiciary spokesperson Jameson Karemani says 30 judges have been blocked off to handle elections petitions for 2 months. But while they are away, what is at stake?
This has come at a cost on other cases some of whom had fixed hearings handled by those judges. On average – in 2 months the minimum a judge was expected to dispose off be 20 cases per judge
At the electoral commission, shillings two Billion has been budgeted in this financial year to handle by-elections.
The Electoral commission spokesperson Paul Bukenya says the law prescribes that vacancies at local government and district level should be occupied within 6 months and 60 days respectively.
The size of the electoral area if it’s a city or a district small constituency determines funding. On average it costs around 300m to organize a by election.
Beyond what catches the eye in election petitions, political interference and bribery allegations cannot be missed. The opposition suffers the most in such occasions.
According lawyer Erias Lukwago, Lukwago the issue of bribery of judges, and political interference is one of the major obstacles and problems in the entire petition scandal.