Uganda's Electoral Commission Is Deliberately Weakening Opposition Strongholds?

This interesting discovery unfolded after analyzing Kampala’s total number of registered voters as per data supplied by Uganda's Electoral Commission (EC). It is suspected that this is a plan against renowned government opposition strongholds.

Today, Kampala has a population of about 1,5 million people according to the latest preliminary national census data from Uganda Bureau Of Statistics. This is compared to the population in 2011 (5 years ago) of about 1,35 million.

From the current projections, it looks like the population is growing at a rate of 2.02% every year.

But the figures from the Electoral Commission (EC) say otherwise, according to the number of registered voters. In 2001, for example, Kampala had 701,895 registered voters. Then there was a 9% increase in 2006 summing up the number to 764,283 registered voters. In 2011, there was an astounding 54% increase raking the total number of registered voters to 1,180,522.

Then in 2016, there is a -14% (negative fourteen percent) increase bringing down the number of registered voters to 1,014,352. This is what piqued our interest in finding out why such a discrepancy existed in the first place. Yet, clearly, Kampala’s population is exploding on the other side.

Registered Voters In Kampala Number of registered voters in Kampala, Uganda

From the graph above, we can see that 2016 has 166,170 less the number of registered voters than 2011 had. Quite an unusual drop in number without the effect of calamities such as wars or natural disasters.

But again, if indeed there are 1,339,940 new / first time voters for the February 18th 2016 polls. Then it would only be prudent and easy to conclude that in every district (Kampala inclusive), there is, and there should have been at least an increment in the number of registered voters. For the term 2011 to 2016 as it has been the trend over the preceding election periods.

Analyzed data from the 2016 voters’ register shows that Uganda's Electoral Commission could be weakening the opposition. Tweet

Let’s have a look at the reasons that could have possibly caused such a discrepancy for Kampala. Of course, these reasons do not take into account demographic factors favourable for an increment in population such as stratospheric rates of rural-urban migration, mushrooming of slums and the good old increment by childbirth among others.

Voting Trends for Kampala 2001 - 2011: Voting trends for Kampala, Uganda

From the graph above, Besigye has been trouncing the incumbent, Museveni since 2001. Although with slight margins. But what should raise your eyes should be the number of those who were actually registered but did not vote. The number shot extra-ordinarily high in 2011.

Over 65% of registered voters just didn't bother to vote.

The obvious reason is that most if not all didn't find sense in queuing up for an exercise whose result was supposedly predetermined. A survey carried out by Kanzu Code in 2015 summarily mirrors the disdain and negative sentiment people have over the presidential polls.

Kanzu Code 2015 Survey Kanzu Code 2015 Survey

Since the landscape has changed, based on the nature of the political rhetoric and the unique qualities of presidential candidates and the rallying by different stakeholders, it only looks like there is going to be an encouraging turn up to the polls.

It wouldn’t be farfetched to imagine what kind of margin the opposition would beat the incumbent, President Museveni, with, if people in Kampala (stronghold) went to the polls. But this definitely wouldn’t be as big a margin because of the reduced number of voters in Kampala.

Kampala isn’t alone, Gulu district too had a reduction of over 7,000 registered voters. It’s a public secret that the incumbent only managed to get only 295 of the votes in Gulu in 2011.

The suspicious decrease in number of registered voters in Kampala could easily be piggybacked to the National ID exercise. Whereas, we don’t have conclusive data on this, we find it a bit unlikely for thousands of Kampalans opting to vote in other districts; without having thousands of people from other districts opting to vote in Kampala.

Hence balancing the equation. Or even skewing it towards Kampala given the demographic changes in the last 5 years.

This begs the question(s) therefore: if 20,000 ghost voters were called out on the fly yet the EC reduced it to another insignificant ‘statistical error’, then how about the thousands of voters that could be concealed on purpose; ones with fake names, identities of dead people or even the cases of double entries?

Also, why are these voter number reductions peculiar to opposition strongholds like Kampala and Gulu and Kitgum among others?

Editor's Note: Analysis done by Kakande Alex. Additional reporting conducted by Daniel Mwesigwa. Kakande Alex is a seasoned statistician. He is currently working as a statistical Researcher with Research Triangle International. A U.S based organization.

Cover Image, Campaigning 2016 | Maxence