Uganda: Many Sceptical, Apprehensive Heading in Toward Election Day


Kampala — Many Ugandans were doubtful about the fairness of the general election campaign and apprehensive about possible violence as they approached Election Day on Thursday, a new Afrobarometer survey shows.

In a survey in late December and early January, fewer than half of respondents considered the campaign a level playing field for all candidates, and a majority said that opposition parties and supporters were often silenced by the government.

Most citizens expected inaccurate vote counts and a disputed election outcome, and fully half expressed fear of political intimidation or violence, although most were confident that Uganda’s security agencies would be able to prevent large-scale outbreaks of violence.

For more survey findings on Uganda’s upcoming election, please visit www.afrobarometer.org.

Key findings:

  • As of December-January, fewer than half of Ugandans described the election environment as free and fair with regard to media coverage of all candidates and parties by private (48%) and government (33%) outlets, opportunities for all candidates and parties to hold political meetings and rallies (34%), and treatment of all candidates and parties by election officials (36%) and police and other security agencies (29%).
  • Six in 10 Ugandans (61%) said opposition parties and supporters are “often” or “always” silenced by the government, a 25-percentage-point increase since 2015.
  • Half (51%) of respondents said they feared political intimidation or violence “somewhat” or “a lot” during the current election campaign, a level of fear similar to that recorded in 2015 but 14 percentage points higher than in 2011.
  • Fewer than half (44%) of citizens expected the 2021 election to be “completely free and fair” or “free and fair with minor problems.”
  • While three-fourths (76%) said they thought the tallying of election results would be at least “fairly accurate” at their own polling station, only one in three (34%) expressed confidence in vote counting at the national tally centre in Kampala.
  • Eight out of 10 Ugandans (80%) considered it “somewhat” or “very” likely that the losing side in the 2021 election would refuse to accept the official election results.
  • But a strong majority (73%) also thought that Uganda’s security agencies would be able to prevent large-scale outbreaks of violence.