Local Farmer Makes Significant Contribution to the 2016 General Elections

Esau Rwamitoma is not an ordinary farmer. Although he lives in the remote hills of Mitooma village on the outskirts of Rukungiri district, he has big dreams and plans that are visibly taking shape in his surroundingst the age of 35 years, he owns a house and is well on his way to wealth creation. He grows crops, and rears goats, pigs and chicken. He is also an entrepreneur engaged in the popular motorcycle transport (boda-boda) business. Esau strikes one as a man who is determined to beat all odds to better his life and family.

Before the 2016 general elections, Esau like the rest of his community had voter apathy. He did not think voting mattered. Whenever he was offered a bribe by candidates, he took the money without understanding the consequences. “Before Voter Education, I did not know that my vote is my voice. I thought that it was government’s responsibility to provide all services and all we had to do was wait”. When he attended a civic education session conducted by Agency for Accelerated Regional Development (AFARD), a member of DENIVA that operates in his area, it became apparent to him that he could provide his children with a better future if he voted for the
right leader. He also realized that his vote alone would not change much.

For that reason, he decided to mobilise his entire community to vote responsibly. The father of four played a significant role in mobilising members of his community to participate in the 2016 general elections. He went door to door on his motorcycle organising for citizen meetings, where he explained the rights and responsibilities of community members and encouraged them to exercise their right. In total, he voluntarily conducted 13 citizen meetings and also mobilised over 300 people. Due to his efforts, the pool of votes at his polling station increased. Out of 970 registered voters, 740 cast their votes in the elections, accounting for 76% of the total voters that cast they votes in the area. This registered twice the number that voted in the 2011 general elections.