Observations and concerns from by-elections

Last Wednesday the Commission announced by-elections results in which all three seats were taken by men despite there being two women out of 10 contestants. The Commission made some observations and raised some concerns which we will share in this column this week.

  • The number of political parties contesting in by-elections is dwindling. We have over 50 registered parties. During the Tripartite Elections only 19 elections participated. During the October 8, 2014 by-elections five political parties participated. During the August 25, 2015 by-elections seven political parties contested. Now the number of parties contesting is at three. This is raising questions that;  if a party cannot contest in the national elections, cannot take part in by-elections, what elections will they participate in? Do we still need their existence in the political parties register or we should find a formula of deregistering such parties so that we remain with the active ones? There is a debate around this scenario will also contribute to the conclusion of the said discussion.
  •  MEC also noted reduced competition in Local Government By-elections. In the August by-elections that took place in five wards, four of the wards had six candidates while one had five candidates. But this time around both wards had two candidates each. This raises questions as to whether we are still valuing the position of councillors or not. We nearly had uncontested election.
  • We have also noted silence from the women empowerment advocates. During the Tripartite Elections there were so many stakeholders rising up to give moral, technical and material support and encouraging women to contest in elections. We have noted no firm action from the activists to support women participation. MEC adopted the cycle approach to elections management and we expect all the stakeholders to follow suit. They should not be active during national elections and then go under like submarines. The by-elections offer an opportunity for the activists to concentrate their efforts and encourage women to participate in elections.
  • There are many civil society groups that were accredited to help with voter education in 2013. However, many are not seen to be active during by-elections. MEC urges them to continue using their accreditation during by-elections. They should also adopt the electoral cycle approach. The same message should be extended to the Development Partners who provide support to the CSOs. Some CSOs want to implement activities during the in-between the ballot period but it is difficult for them to get the funding.

 

These are the observation from the by-elections and next week we look at the role of political parties.