Source: The correct line - Uganda under Museveni, a book by Dr. Olive Kobusingye There are now people of presidential calibre and capacity who can take over when I retire, and I shall be among the first to back them. Yoweri Museveni To many Ugandans, particularly in the rural areas, elections now signal the arrival of money and all sorts of other inducements. It has become a whole economy. In villages votes do not cost very much money five hundred or even two hundred shillings [equivalent to 25 and 10 American cents respectively], Paul Kahiigi, a political activist and former LCIII (subcounty) Chairman in Bushenyi, Western Uganda, told me. The Movement dispatches vehicles to go around ferrying people to polling stations. Once the people get into the vehicles the buying begins. Usually the buying agents have a lot of cash in form of coins. To ensure that the people who get money deliver the votes, they insist that a Movement agent at the station votes on their behalf. In the 2006 election a minister who was running for Parliament went to Bushenyi Centenary and Stanbic Banks and withdrew a huge sum of money in coins. The money was being moved in sacks. When those banks did not have or would not give him any more coins he went to Mbarara. Someone at a bank in Mbarara called us to say that the same minister had just withdrawn money in coins we knew this [money] was going to the village voters. In some villages like Kyeitembe and Nyakabirizi cows were slaughtered, and everyone who accepted to vote for the Movement was given a kilo of meat. For people who could not afford meat this was very good inducement. In addition to being against the law, there was something vulgar about this blatant commercialisation of elections by a regime that had come to power on the ticket of clean leadership. Kahiigi talked of instances where candidates were offered large sums of money to pull out of races in order to leave only NRM candidates in the contest. Once this became known, others would declare intentions to run so that they too could be bought out of the running. According to Kahiigi, this went on right up to the polls. But the peasant voters did not see the millions theirs was a much cheaper market. Ingrid Turinawe, another political activist from Rukungiri, described similar situations. People get surprised that a person in the village can sell their vote for a small amount of salt. But it is true. There are many families who cannot afford salt. They have to work a full day in someone elses garden in order to get half a kilo of salt. If free salt is given to them on the eve of elections, and they are told that the computer in the ballot box will see how they vote, they are going to vote as directed. Urban people do not understand this, but it is the reality in many villages. It is these revelations that have generated cynicism, with some people now convinced that the Museveni government is not interested in poverty reduction. The grinding poverty that causes a full-grown man or woman to sell their vote for a small amount of salt seems to work well for the ruling party. Many think it is not in their interest to change it. Kahiigi described other ways in which the ruling party candidates influences the vote. The Movement made very many false promises. For instance Richard Nduhura told people in Bumbire that he was bringing electricity to the villages. Electric poles were brought and deposited at intervals along the road. The people were told that if they voted for Nduhura, he would bring electricity. After the election a truck came and picked up the poles, and that was the end of that project. Richard Nduhura was not new to election meddling. In 2001 he contested for a parliamentary seat against Reform Agendas Spencer Tirwomwe. Nduhuras agents were engaged in gross electoral malpractices, including multiple voting, underage voting, ballot stuffing, and bribery of voters. Nduhura was found to have voted for himself twice. After a court petition the election was annulled and a by-election was called. Under the prevailing electoral laws, being a proven vote thief did not bar him from running again, and he won the by-election. Museveni then appointed him to cabinet, perhaps to a ministry where integrity was not considered essential the Ministry of Trade & Industry. In many places the 2006 parliamentary elections encountered the same challenges as the presidential election. One example was the contest between Abdu Katuntu and Kirunda Kivejinja in Bugweri, Busoga. Kivejinja was the NRM candidate, and opposition candidate Katuntu was running on the FDC ticket. At the conclusion of the poll, Kivejinja was announced the winner. Katuntu filed a petition to annul the election. The court heard that Kivejinja deployed a squad of armed men who were under the command of one Lt. Mulindwa, alias Surambaya, who, according to witnesses, wrecked havoc in the constituency by harassing, torturing and intimidating Katuntus supporters. Kivejinja then deployed another group led by one Major Kiswiriri, who canvassed the constituency addressing gatherings and telling voters that if they voted for Katuntu, they would face the entire wrath of the army. Several of Katuntus agents were arrested on the eve of polling day. They were physically assaulted and then dumped at Busembatya Police Post. Some were detained at Kivejinjas house. They were released on polling day after the close of the poll, with no charges or explanation. Those who had sustained serious injuries were given police forms to go to the hospital for treatment. In one parish, working through one of his agents, Kivejinja was reported to have recruited 18 strong bodied men and told them that their assignment was to block Katuntu from campaigning in their village and to make life hard for him in whatever manner. One of the men who accepted to testify said the leader was paid USh 10,000 (US$5.00) per day while the others were paid USh 3,000 (US$1.50) per day. In another incident at Ibaako, Kivejinja, accompanied by men armed with AK-47 rifles, stopped Katuntus campaign vehicle. They ordered the driver to get out of the vehicle and lie face down in the road. Kivejinja took away the vehicle keys from him. The driver was beaten and kicked by the armed men. The armed men emptied his pockets of all his money and then dumped him and his passengers at Iganga Police Station. There were police records of these incidents. A man who had allowed Katuntu to rent office space from him for the campaign was attacked and beaten. His assailants told him that he was very foolish to have given an office to Katuntu. In summarising the petition judgment, the court stated in part: The evidence shows that there was an extraordinarily high level of intimidation, violence and torture. It was very well organised and executed by groups trained and deployed purposely to do so. The first respondent [Kivejinja] was at the heart of it. Much of it was carried out in his very presence. At times by him, or at his orders. Part of his home was turned into an illegal detention centre for those known or suspected not to be his supporters. Gangs, armed with guns and sticks, in the names of Black Mambas scavenged the constituency, beat and intimidated hundreds of voters cowering them to support the first respondent or punishing them for supporting the petitioner. Many were dumped at police stations after torture and mistreatment, most likely to justify the torture and mistreatment, or to temporarily disable them and prevent them from carrying out any activity in the campaign arena. The Police itself appears to have been overwhelmed and perplexed with those events. Scores of persons were dumped at their posts and stations within the constituency mainly by the armed supporters of the first respondent [Kivejinja] from various parts of the constituency. The Police charged none of them with any offences. They merely recorded statements, issued victims with Police Form 3 and released them to go and nurse their injuries. Then, almost as though the judges were pained and overwhelmed by what they had heard and seen, they added: Court has already come to the conclusion that there was widespread intimidation, violence and torture of the Petitioners supporters and agents. An election does not constitute a war of guns and sticks. It is a civic activity. It hinges upon the central concepts of freedom and fairness which constitute a constitutional norm under Article 61 of the Constitution. The totality of the evidence on record supports the conclusion that the first respondent [Kivejinja] ran his election campaign as if it was a war. He did so to the extent of even establishing or allowing the establishment of a detention room in his home for those he wanted to force into supporting him. the overall quality of the election was so low that the election cannot qualify as free and fair. The election was annulled and a by-election was called. Katuntu won. Kivejinja retained his post as Third Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Information and National Guidance. In 2009 he was appointed as Minister of Internal Affairs, putting him in charge of the police and prisons. 10 March 2006. Armed men at a polling station in Kamwokya, a Kampala suburb. While some are easily identifiable as belonging to a paramilitary group, the Local Defence Unit, others are in plain clothes and are wielding firearms in full view of the voters.). Courtesy The Monitor In April 2007 a new breed of plain-clothes operatives emerged on Kampala streets. Wielding big sticks, they would pour onto the streets, often from around the Central Police Station, and would sometimes work alongside the police in violently dispersing demonstrators. Courtesy The Monitor  Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Building a Democratic Future, Sowing the Mustard Seed (London & Basingstoke: Macmillan Publishers Ltd, 1997).  Interview with Paul Kahiigi, April 2009.  Abdu Katuntu v. Ali Kirunda Kivejinia and the Electoral Commission, Electoral Petition no. 7 of 2006, High Court of Uganda.