Opposition leaders say that young people will not be bystanders in the upcoming 2021 general elections.
Youth leaders from the Democratic Party, Peoples Progressive Party, Justice Forum-JEEMA and the People Power pressure group made the statement while addressing a press conference today at Parliament.
Led by Mityana Municipality MP, Francis Zaake and former Guild President for Makerere University, Roy Ssembogga, the leaders have urged people aged 18-30 years to participate meaningfully in the 2021 elections.
Ssembogga says that there are several elective positions for the youth from the village to national level and therefore, young people must know the requirements to vote or be voted into leadership.
He added that youths are often caught in the middle of election campaigns of other individuals and have been used to incite violence and also targets for voter bribery.
Ssembogga says the youth must thereby rise up and take on political leadership.
The Electoral Commission Road Map for 2021 shows that out of a total of 1,539,861 elective positions up for grabs in the general polls, 97% are for special interest groups including Persons with Disabilities, older persons and youths.
Youth vote for their leaders from village, parish/ward, sub counties, counties, municipalities, districts and representatives to Parliament.
The Electoral commission, according to road map planned to spend shillings 92.2 billion in the 2019/2020 financial year on elections for the youth, persons with disability and older persons. However, the electoral body has a total budget of shillings 868.1 billion to implement the road map from December 2018 to February 2021 to conduct all the elections.
According to Ssembogga, who is the national coordinator for institutions at People Power, youth have an opportunity therefore to vie for the various positions, starting with the village youth council elections.
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Ssembogga says that opposition leaders are urging youths to ensure that they participate in the village elections which kick start polls for the other levels.
The Electoral Commission is expected to compile and update the voters register for the youth council at the village and parish level between 19th-28th February 2020, identify and nominate candidates from 8th-13th April 2020, conduct campaigns from 15th-17th April 2020 and village youth council elections on 24th April, 2020.
Mityana Municipality MP, Francis Zaake however says that the electoral body has not done sufficient publicity on the national youth elections.
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However, EC Spokesperson, Jotham Taremwa says that the electoral body has widely publicised the road map since 2018 including national youth election activities.
Maria Natabi Ledochowska, youth leader in People Power and a member of the National Youth Council says that youths must not be bystanders in the upcoming elections because they "own" Uganda, and must be at the forefront to determine the politics of the day and the next 25 years.
She adds that youths are fortunate that there are no nomination fees for the elections apart from those for representative to parliament who pay shillings 3 million.
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Natabi explains that it is important for youth to understand that one can only vie for any of the positions if they are on the village youth register because it is the village youth executive committee members who elect the parish/ward leaders who in turn vote leaders for county to district levels.
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Haruna Musanje, the chairman for the youth league at Justice Forum-JEEMA, says that since each village youth executive committee has 9 members, there will be over 500,000 leaders from the 65,200 villages as indicated in the road map.
Musanje says that this is a good opportunity for the rest of the opposition because they will have youth leaders to canvass votes from local government, parliamentary and presidential elections.