By Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho
The National Resistance Movement party has launched a group of presidential vote protectors, agents, and coordinators who will ensure the protection and security of the party flag–bearers vote in the forthcoming 2021 general elections.
The 150,000 vote protectors were on Wednesday flagged off to undertake the task of mobilising support for Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and ensure “safety” of his vote right from the polling centers to the national tally center.
Over 150,000 coordinators and Presidential Vote Protectors under President Yoweri Museveni/Office of NRM National Chairman based at Kyambogo.
The teams which were flagged off on Wednesday will, working as trainers of trainers, in turn brief subordinate teams in their sub-regions, which will then take the same message to teams lower in the hierarchy right up to village level where NRM commands the broadest network countrywide.
The coordinators, including NRM leaders mainly youths from across all regions of Uganda, have been undergoing training on how to handle the task. The NRM National Vice Chairman Al Hajji Moses Kigongo flagged off the teams at the offices of the National Chairman in Kampala on Wednesday.
Addressing the NRM members at the pass out ceremony at Kyambogo, the NRM Vice Chairman,Hajji. Moses Kigongo cautioned the participants to stick to their task and avoid bad behavior that can cause “problems” to NRM saying the country needs peace and not war.
Kigongo told the NRM mobilizers that the party is relying on them for victory in the forthcoming elections and appealed to them to show commitment and sacrifice for their country by delivering on their task.
“If you have not done anything for your country, this is the right time to do it and the country to gain something from you. That’s what we expect from you,” Kigongo said.
He assured the participants of the support from NRM but also implored them to first show commitment and love for the country and the NRM.
“After tallying has been concluded, the vote protectors will then use a motorcycle provided at the polling station and follow election officials who will be delivering electoral materials, up to the sub-county headquarter in order to eliminate tampering with polling materials”.Kigongo said
Among the roles, the “vote protectors” will undertake is to sensitize NRM members on the purpose of voting, witness the delivery of polling materials used on polling day, and observe the operation of the biometric Voter Verification kit and ensure that the operator does not mess up the process. The vote protectors are also expected to report any case of malpractice at their posts to the District Coordinator for the quick response.
“Please, we trust you and will back you. Help us so that we don’t get any problem because opponents are playing confusion for us we want a very clean victory,” Kigongo added.
The District teams at District Tally Centers will witness receipt of voting materials including Declaration forms and results, and compare the same with their data from polling agents, fill the data in tally sheets and deliver them to Kampala on the same day.
The senior presidential assistant in the office of the party chairmanMilly Babirye Babalanda, said that the officers were invited to introduce the coordinators and to brief them on their roles.
“Security has been concerned about the recruitment of these teams. You can imagine when you are recruiting hundreds of thousands of people, security has to know. So we invited them to come and see that the group is genuine and composed of people known to us,” Babalanda said.
“We explained to them the roles of the coordinators and security teams in protecting and ensuring security of votes and Ugandans. The officers in turn provided guidance on how the teams can operate without causing security problems”
Milly Babalanda says that, the NRM coordinators and vote protectors will serve as polling agents and election observers for Museveni who is the Presidential Flag bearer for NRM. In the past, Museveni did not have such an organised group and it cost him many votes which were allegedly lost in the process of tallying and transmitting especially in areas where opposition is most active.
Also invited was a team from the secretariat of Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) to connect back with the various districts where the coordinators are selected from and will be operating.
According to Farouk Kirunda the Office of NRM National Chairman administrator and media assistant, security officers’ involvement was and will be at security strategic level to prevent impersonation and infiltration by criminal elements who may want to use the campaign season to cause insecurity in the country.
“I commend security for being vigilant. It shows that they are working and will protect Ugandans as they go for elections. I urge all groups to notify security of their activities so as to be guided properly and to prevent being disrupted by enforcers who may not be aware of their activities. This will help us have peaceful elections,” Kirunda added.
Accordingly the NRM party coordinators and vote protectors totals to about 150, 000 who were drawn from all sub-regions across the country and that Security organs will work under the inter agency arrangement to coordinate all the activities and safe guard the elections until our candidate swears in.
The office of the National Chairman’s office [ONC’s] plan is to follow up every vote starting from door-to-door and person-to-person mobilisation to urging mass turn out of voters, voting, counting, transmitting and declaring.
Earlier at the event, the Deputy Director General for Internal Security Organization (ISO) Maj. Emmy Katabaazi, urged the participants to collaborate well with security in their area of jurisdiction and to select polling agents who are credible in order to ensure victory for NRM.
He said the polling agents are not only embarking on a national cause but also going to secure the interest of the continent. He assured the participants of support from security agencies but noted that they should “move to stop the forces of darkness and avoid a scenario of what happened in Madagascar where a DJ propped up by foreign powers was elected only to mess up the country.”
As a result, security agencies are taking steps to closely monitor the groups to prevent them from being infiltrated by hostile elements.
Also present were officers from UPDF led by Chief Political Commissar Brig. Henry Matsiko, who represented CDF, and emphasised their role of securing Uganda as Ugandans go to the polls from January 14 onwards.