Cash-strapped judiciary could affect electoral credibility: activist

Cash-strapped judiciary could affect electoral credibility: activist

The Centre for Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice (CIGPJ) raised concern over the credibility of the planned December 2024 elections citing ill-preparedness by the government.

The Executive Director for Centre for Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice (CIGPJ), Jackeline Nasiwa, said some of the critical legislations such as the National Elections Act, 2012 (Amendment) Bill, 2023, that is meant to manage and regulate in guiding elections in the country, are not yet in place.

“In terms of the judicial reforms, I think we need a holistic approach to reforming our judiciary. The judiciary is incompetent, I could say weak, and it requires a lot of reforms not necessarily in terms of the persons but the institution itself,” she said.

She added, “One is the human resources, we have very few judges maybe they are now 120. The (judges) were 129 for the whole country including for the Supreme Court.”

Nasiwa decried the crisis at the country’s most powerful court, revealing that there are only six judges and they have not been able to sit for the last four years due to a quorum hitch.

He said the trend replicates in the court of appeal where there are very fewer judges same as in high court. Some states do not even have a high court judge, she further revealed.

“There is no money given to the judiciary, there is no sufficient funding given to the institution of the judiciary. The infrastructure of the judiciary is completely spoiled,” she said, adding a strong judiciary is mandatory for a country to hold an election.

Nasiwa said a robust judiciary with neutral courts would boost confidence of the people in elections. She also stressed the significance of police neutrality in establishing democratic elections while maintaining law and order.

“If we have brutal police then we will have brutal electoral process and if we have police who can guide us peacefully during elections and then we can have peaceful elections.”

She highlighted the importance of the media in the electoral process, expressing that the media helps to make the electoral process transparent.

“The role of the media is vital in reporting electoral-related offenses maybe if there is electoral violence and without the media, how will people know that people have killed themselves in a community?” Nasiwa stated.

“How many term limits are we giving to our leaders and how many years? How many constituencies are we going to have? Who can participate, the inclusivity issue needs to be defined and I think without the rule of law and without the laws governing the electoral processes, it is likely to be confusion.”

Nasiwa said there is a need for equal ground for those who prefer the election to be held and those who do not want.