Local Government Minister pledges further support to NEC
Local Government Minister James Musoni recently visited the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to look at its operations and achievements, and see how his ministry can further support the body.
Speaking after the visit, Musoni expressed his appreciation for the work done by NEC in capacity building, professionalism and promotion of democracy, as well as its capacity to quickly produce results from elections.
“We intended to see how NEC works as our partners and see how we can support them,” the Minister said.
One of NEC’s major challenges is lack of staff, with only 26 permanent employees (although another 23 will be deployed in districts during the upcoming local and parliamentary elections). The situation is particularly dire in the IT department, which has only one permanent staff member assigned.
That hasn’t prevented the Commission from proceeding with the decentralization of its activities, though. So far, 13 sites have been put in place, each of which covers two districts, in preparation of local and parliamentary elections that will be held next year.
This process will certainly improve voter registration, which is necessary given the fact that there has been an increase in voters of 5.5% compared to the Presidential elections.
Progress has also been made in making the Commission more efficient and independent, for instance through the acquisition of a printer with a capacity to produce 12,500 ballot papers per hour, while staff has been trained on how to operate it. In addition, the Commission is becoming more independent financially, since it has managed to reduce foreign support to its operations to 15%, the goal being to completely eliminate such assistance.
NEC has also worked to improve procedures, for instance when it comes to voters’ registration. For the upcoming local government elections, for instance, it will be easier for people to verify if their name figures on the voters’ list because they will be able to do so through the Commission’s website or even by SMS message.
In this area, Minister Musoni pledged to work hand in hand with NEC and the National Identity Card Project to sensitize people who still do not have their ID to make sure that they obtain it in preparation for the upcoming elections.