Public Policy Institute (PPI)

Analysis of Media as a Tool for Political Campaigning Ahead of the 2021 General Elections

12 January 2023

Uganda is scheduled to hold its fourth multiparty general elections in January and February 2021 amidst COVID-19 and under several restrictions intended to combat the spread of the pandemic. Although the Electoral Commission (EC) launched its 2021 election roadmap as early as 2018, the implementation of preparatory activities was hampered by the outbreak of COVID-19 and the measures put in place to combat its spread. Consequently, the EC revised its roadmap and announced measures that expressively limited human-to-human interactions and imposed grave restrictions on public gatherings and free movement of people. Political campaigns were instead designated to be conducted using both mainstream and social media.

This paper, therefore, analyses the extent and implications of the disruptions for the delivery of free, fair, and credible elections, while underscoring the principle of public safety in the wake of COVID-19. The paper further illuminates issues that are linked to the institutional bottlenecks of Uganda’s media landscape. These issues range from, media ownership, the media regulatory framework and media access.