Kampala. The Court of Appeal yesterday upheld the election of Democratic Party’s Mary Kabanda as Masaka District Woman MP.
Ms Kabanda’s election had again been challenged by NRM’s Freda Mubanda, who argued that Judge Michael Elubu of Masaka High Court erred in law when he ruled in her initial election petition that there was no evidence of non-compliance with the electoral laws by Ms Kabanda.
In their unanimous judgement, the panel of three Court of Appeal justices held that the allegations of bribery of voters, falsification of electoral results and ballot stuffing that the legislator’s rival raised were without basis.
The three justices included Mr Remmy Kasule, Mr Richard Buteera and Ms Elizabeth Musoke.
“The petitioner (Mubanda) failed to adduce sufficient evidence that on the polling day of February 18, 2016, the legislator through her agents distributed salt, money, exercise books and sugar as an enticement so that voters could cast the vote in her favour,” deputy registrar Deo Nizeyimana read the ruling on behalf of the three justices.
“Justice Elubu applied the required standards of proof in adjudicating upon election matters and we find no reason to interfere with his judgement, we therefore order the petitioner to pay the respondent costs of petition both in the lower court and Court of Appeal,” Mr Nizeyimana read.
Ms Mubanda had earlier filed a petition in the High Court accusing the Masaka Woman MP of outright voter bribery and manipulation of the elections that saw a number of pre-ticked ballot papers stuffed into the boxes in her favour. However, she lost the petition in the High Court, prompting the appeal which was also disposed of against her yesterday.
She had also blamed the Electoral Commission of deliberate failure to look into her concerns before declaring the poll results, and as such wanted court to nullify the election.
However, Judge Elubu dismissed the claim, saying Ms Mubanda’s agents duly signed the declaration of results forms acknowledging the authenticity of the outcome.
“…The outcomes of the process would not have changed, even if all the ballots from the said centres were given to Mubanda. The polling stations had a total of 318 votes,” he added.
Ms Kabanda polled 51,938 votes while Ms Mubanda got 34,119. The Forum for Democratic Change party candidate Rukia Nakigudde polled 3,878 votes.
The Court of Appeal also pointed out that Ms Mubanda failed to produce the items she alleged had been used to bribe voters.
On the allegation of falsification of results, the justices also ruled that Ms Mubanda didn’t bring any evidence of declaration forms which had figures contradictory to those that the Electoral Commission released to the participating candidates.
There was something of a stir when Ms Mubanda disappeared from the court premises before the judgement was concluded, leaving behind her supporters.
Of the more than 100 parliamentary election appeals filed in the Court of Appeal, this is the fifth matter that has been heard and concluded.