Yesterday Jan. 15, 2016 will forever go down in history as the day Uganda had it's first ever televised Presidential Debate. That's awesome, isn't it?!
The debate themed “Working Together for Peaceful and Violence-Free 2016 Elections” was a joint platform for the presidential candidates to share their vision and manifestos to the people of Uganda on live television before the country goes to the polls on February 18, 2016.
The debate was an upright move to create a more praised and revered democracy in our country — and according to Justice James Ogoola, Chairperson of the organizing committee that includes the Elders Forum of Uganda (TEFU), National Consultative Council and the Inter-religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), the objective of the debate is to demonstrate the collaborative efforts for an equal, tolerant, and harmonious society necessary for a peaceful election in Uganda.
A statement that appears on UNDP states that the expected outputs and outcome of the debate were;
- Increased clarity on the manifestos and visions as presented by the presidential candidates
- Increased sense of national unity and peaceful coexistence;
- A more informed electorate that focuses on key issues
- Increased sense of tolerance and peaceful co-existence
- Deepened democratic governance in Uganda.
Was it a democratic debate? Apparently Not!
Legendary musician Bebe Cool pointed out the worst mistake the organizers of the debate made, intentionally or not.
In a tl;dr statement the singer took to social media and posted earlier this morning, he abashes the debate organizers for not considering the deaf in their so called democracy. A quote in the statement reads;
About the debate, next time take care of the DEAF because they only understand sign language. That was so undemocratic for them yet they are also many and they vote.
Let's all channel our attention from Mabirizi and his famous fails ... and focus on something that actually matters.
According to 2005 estimates by the World Health Organization, more than 260,000 people in Uganda were deaf. By 2007, the number had increased to 528,000. In 2013, Uganda National Association of the Deaf (UNAD) reported over 700,000 deaf persons.
The deaf population is undoubtedly the most ignored group in Uganda and that was also witnessed yesterday, Jan. 16, when Uganda was apparently writing history.
Televising a presidential debate and completely ignoring the deaf who, of course, only understand sign language did not help in convincing the people a democratic history was being written. If anything, it only promotes disunity and makes them feel insecure as if their votes and opinions are irrelevant.
Did the debate portray a democracy where the minority are ignored? Don't their decisions about the country's affairs matter anymore?