Elections are the best means through which the people can exercise their democratic right of choosing their leaders. Enabling all the eligible people to cast their ballots freely ensures their direct participation and it is something that voters look forward to either re-elect or reject their leaders for failing to deliver the goods.
It is a pity, therefore, that elections tend to bring out the worst in African politicians. The competition for votes turns into a deadly duel during every election cycle. The spotlight is now on Uganda, where veteran leader Yoweri Museveni is seeking the continuation of his long reign.
Thanks to incumbency and the ruling National Resistance Movement's experience and organisation, the challenge from a fragmented opposition is minimal. However, violent campaigns could cast doubt on the election.
On Wednesday, seven people died and scores of others were injured in protests that erupted after the arrest of one of the opposition candidates. The authorities have accused him of violating election guidelines meant to contain the spread of Covid-19. One cannot argue with that.
The government has every right to enforce law and order and protect lives. However, in a working democracy, once a presidential candidate is nominated, he or she is provided with government security detail. A democracy works where leaders can be challenged in free and fair elections.
The candidates at all levels must be accorded an opportunity to present their manifestos to the people through free election campaigns. However, criminals that take advantage of this to cause mayhem through looting, vandalism and robberies pose a threat to the country and its people.
Peaceful protests are okay but not violent demonstrations. No country can allow the destruction of property and infrastructure that has been built at a huge cost to the taxpayers by crooks hiding behind elections. Uganda needs a credible election and not an orgy of violence and destruction