Category Archives: Politics

Going Digital can lower Uganda’s 700 Billion 2021 Election bill

The announcement by Hon. David Bahati that the budget for the next election is hovering around UGX 700Bn (USD 190M) plus the further shocking revelation by the spokesperson of the Electoral Commission that they requested for more than UGX 1 Trillion (USD 270M) for the same purpose has left many of us agape.

Justifications are being made about the rising costs to handle the election as well as the increased electoral areas like districts and constituencies. However, all this is being said with an analog mindset.

The Ugandan media has made the public get accustomed to hearing figures in Billions of Shillings being thrown around and is now preparing us for Trillions. This trend favours the corrupt officials who now have an opportunity to increase their corruption margins on government undertakings. It is very likely that nearly 40% of what the Electoral Commission budgets for elections fizzles away in unclear circumstances, serving the interests of the unknown.

As concerned citizens, we should not just blindly accept what is being proposed for expenditure. One wonders why the relevant officials cannot sit down and come up with ways of lowering the cost of our elections especially now that we are even celebrating twenty years of the existence of the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). The UCC proudly boasts of having facilitated the spread of broadband and telephony services all over the country.

From a technology mindset, Uganda is capable of continuously lowering its spend on elections if only we were willing to think through our processes, challenges as well as resources.

What are some of the key areas of spending under the current modus operandi of the Electoral Commission during elections?

  1. Printing of Ballot Papers (Done from outside the country)

  2. Distribution of polling material

  3. Facilitation of Election Polling Officials

  4. Printing of requisite paperwork for the Polling officials like the Voters’ Register

  5. Security

  6. Registration of Candidates

Digital Proposal

As a country, we have a National Identity database in place which can be relied upon for electoral matters. It is the single most effective source of citizen verification. This alone will erase the need for having a voter’s register printed out for each polling station. Money saved.

Electronic gadgets that are not only portable but also easy to deploy can be procured for verification of voters at the polling stations or even the registration of candidates. This will eliminate the need for an extra polling agent at a station whose role is to look up the voter’s name, verify with the ID and then tick the name. A polling station would only need one agent to man it.

The same electronic gadgets should be able to display the candidates to be voted for and by a mere touch of the screen, the respectively chosen candidate gets a vote. Through data streaming, the information instantly gets relayed to the control center. This eliminates the need for printing expensive ballot papers and distributing them under high security.

Finally, there s a need for a back end software system that should be able to integrate all these activities and deliver results with the requisite levels of integrity. This software can be developed by a team of locals and open sourced for others to learn from through sharing.

One may ask, how do we get the good local software developers?

Easy!!! Put up a competition for teams to come up with concepts on software design aimed at meeting the specified needs of the Electoral Commission (EC). The winner gets the opportunity to work with the EC to meet their expectations.

This way, we have the potential to cut down our planned expenditure of UGX 700 Billion by at least 50%. We still have two years to go. Can we start now?

James Wire is a Business and Technology Consultant based in Kampala, Uganda
Follow @wirejames on Twitter.
Email lunghabo [at] gmail [dot] com

In Honour of James Seipei Stompie Moeketsi

In 1974, somewhere in Parys, Free State, South Africa, a baby was born and named James Seipei Stompie Moeketsi. He was born at a time when the fight for black liberation in South Africa had gained steam. The likes of Nelson Mandela had been imprisoned as his wife Winnie Mandela continued with the struggle on the outside.


James Seipei Stompie Moeketsi – Photo,

Growing up in a wretched environment strategically designed by the apartheid perpetrators to dehumanise and disempower the black South African, the young boy gained a sense of purpose at an early age in life. Unlike today’s urban dwelling child who spends time just watching cartoons, playing their X-Box or hanging out in exotic play areas, Stompie realised at an early age that he had to be part of the solution to the disempowerment of black South Africa.

By the time he clocked ten years, he had joined the active anti-apartheid uprisings and went on to make a record of being the youngest political detainee at 12 years. This is the age when today’s child is still considered a baby and is pampered like the world will end if they do not get what they asked for. The zeal of teenagers and youths when it comes to some of these matters has a tendency to cross acceptable limits. They usually believe in the ideas thrown at them 150% potentially creating radicals out of them.

Stompie was that guy who made it a life time call to achieve freedom for the black South African. Like fate would have it, on December 28th 1988, he and three other boys were kidnapped only to be murdered on 1st January 1989. At the age of 14 years, this young energetic, zealous beacon of hope for Black South Africa had his life terminated by a one Jerry Richardson who was a member of the infamous Mandela Football Club.

The death of Stompie sent reverberations throughout South Africa with the liberation struggle proponents questioning each other on Who did or didn’t do it!

Little did they know that thousands of miles up north of South Africa, a young man, born in 1974 like James Seipei had grown so fond of the liberation struggle. His interaction with South African students who were studying in exile had given him a taste and feel of what was going wrong that side of the continent. He was lucky to be in school studying at a time when Stompie had dropped out in preference for pursuing the struggle.

The death of Stompie jolted this young man out of his sleep and after a period of grief, he decided to take on the names Stompie Seipei Moeketsi in memory of the late. This young man begun referring to himself as James Wire Stompie Seipei Moeketsi. Later, his school mates broke it down and while some called him Stompie Seipei, others referred to him as Moeketsi. Eventually, the name Stompie became synonymous with James Wire.

Alot is said about who killed or didn’t kill Stompie and one may be wondering why I chose to honor Stompie today. Once again, as I write this, thousands of miles south of Uganda, in Orlando Stadium, Soweto, Johannesburgh, the late Winnie Madikizela Mandela is being honored for her role in the struggle for Black South Africa emancipation. She was behind the notorious Mandela Football Club and the death of Stompie is attributed to her by many. However, it is not my role to condemn or exonerate her. All I can say is that she is closely tied to the circumstances that led to the demise of James Seipei.

Winnie Mandela, being in a struggle might have made some mistakes and for those who do not know, a struggle isnt a walk in the park. All parties involved tend to slip up here and there. This however doesn’t negate the very positive contribution this lady made to the struggle. She kept the candle burning while her husband was incarcerated. Many other incarcerated liberators had wives too but how many came up to keep their husbands’ ideals alive?

For all she did, I thank God that she was able to see South Africa come out of the apartheid era. As for James Seipei, it is a pity that he ended up being collateral damage in a game that involved very calculative and sophisticated tormentors backed by the oppressive apartheid regime.

In 2013, I paid a visit to South Africa and this time round had a deep conviction to find out more about how the blacks lived. It therefore came as no surprise when I walked out of my hotel in the plush Rosebank suburb with the intention of spending an entire day in the impoverished suburb of Alexander. My guide happened to be a resident of Alexander and he didn’t disappoint.


The home I visited in Alexander, South Africa. 

What I saw there made me question whether what James Seipei Stompie Moeketsi died for had been achieved. The levels of poverty are unimaginable. The kind of housing for people who dwell in an environment where temperatures swing from as low as 5º C upto 30º C was very questionable. I entered an excuse of a home that was basically thin flimsy iron sheets nailed on poles to form a wall with others covering the top acting as a roof. This 4m X 5m size shack was home to a family of five. Three children of whom two were already teens aged above 13 years staying with their two parents. I could only see one bed in the house, a corner reserved for cooking and another that had multiple uses among which was that of being a bathroom at the appropriate time. Privacy was non existent in that home, food was just enough for the next meal, so much was not right but what could they do about it after being abandoned by their liberators that chose to join the looting elite?

With a sorrowful heart, I vividly recall this sad experience as well as many others while in Alexander and wonder really whether Sompie Seipei is happy for the ultimate sacrifice he made for his country.

RIP Stompie Seipei Moeketsi

God Bless South Africa.

James Wire