In her ruling, Justice Esta Nambayo set aside the magistrate's decision and declared Muwonge the winner of the elections and awarded him the costs of the suit.
Court Civil Division has upheld the election of Bashir Muwonge as the Local Council
One Chairperson of Shauriyako B Nakivubo in Kampala Central. Justice Esta Nambayo
delivered the verdict on Thursday morning hence overturning an earlier decision
by the Mengo Grade One Magistrate, Patience Lorna Tukundane, which had
nullified Muwonge's victory.
Muwonge’s election in 2019 following an application by his rival, Roy Nantege
claiming that the Electoral Commission changed the election date from July
10th to July 11th 2018 without gazetting or advertising the new
dates, which was irregular and affected the turn-up of his voters since they were
not aware of the changes.
Section 107 of the Local Government Act requires that a date
of elections be published in the gazette. The 2017 guidelines for election of
village and parish/ward Administrative Unit Chairpersons, Nominations and
approval of Executive members also provided that the Electoral Commission shall
appoint a day for elections at the village and parish/ward by notice in the
gazette and local media.
Following the decision of the magistrate’s court, Muwonge
filed an appeal in the High Court Civil Division, arguing that Tukundane erred when she
nullified the election. Muwonge also said that the magistrate didn't permit his
counsel to interrogate Nantege’s evidence didn't hear the defence from the Electoral
commission since the matter was determined ex-parte and failed to examine
evidence presented before her.
In her ruling, Justice Esta Nambayo set aside the
magistrate's decision and declared Muwonge the winner of the elections and awarded
him costs of the suit. Justice Nambayo
argued that Nantege did not prove that the change in dates of the election
affected the outcomes of the polls, adding that the difference of 11 votes
means that voters of both parties got information about the new dates and turned up to vote.
"The turn up does not show lack of
information to any party’s voters. The affidavits in support of the petition
show that voters turned up at the election ground on the 11th of July 2018. Those
who did not vote failed because their names were not found in the register of
voters but not because they were absent for not knowing the rescheduled voting
date," ruled justice Nambayo.
Muwonge polled 163 votes while Ntege garnered 152 votes. She
also explained that there was information about the new date since even the
respondent wrote to EC seeking postponement of the new date.