Why Uganda Will Need Election Funding Reform after the February Polls

Posted February 17, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Featured ~ 4,323 views


By Ronnie Mayanja | Editor, UNAA Times Online | On February 18th 2011 Ugandans are headed to the polls to elect a new leader in what pundits have now described as the most expensive election in Uganda’s history.

The campaigns brought to the surface several key issues and perhaps one area worth debating after the election will be the issue of campaign funding and how to regulate the process.

In the US the first legislation dealing with election funding was introduced in 1867 as the Naval Appropriations bill. Earlier on the US had discovered the dangers that would arise once the system was left unchecked.

In Africa where incumbents hold the balance of power this becomes an even bigger challenge. According to the February 14th issue of the East Africa Business Week Uganda’s elections this year have consumed a colossal sum of over 60 billion shillings a figure that has largely benefited the ruling party.

The increasing influence of money to buy voters and material inducements has eroded the electoral process where emphasis should have been on service delivery. Today leading politicians with deep pockets are able to repeatedly buy their way back into office while locking out potential candidates who might not have the same resources to compete in the end the process produces rulers and not leaders.

This disturbing trend of monetisation of elections as other sectors of the economy continue to suffer has greatly corrupted the election process and in some cases is bound to distort or affect the results.

During this particular election we have seen the use of billboards, online media, robocalls, Print, radio and television advertisements all of which cost large sums of money. A probe that ensures that tax payers money is not misused as part of these election paying schemes would help dispel this fear among the general public.

Therefore come 2016 a new law or reform governing campaign financing might need to be put in place to create a level playing field and allow other political parties the ability to compete. The issue of other political parties campaigning against the ‘State machinery’ should never arise because the ruling party tends to benefit and in most cases controls the state owned media outlets.

Based on some observations in this particular election with the Electoral commission only providing 20 million shillings per Presidential candidate for the 112 days of campaigns the huge expenditure that followed these campaigns will need a cap in future to ensure that the basic services are provided in sectors where little or no funding ever takes place. Hospitals are without drugs, our people in some parts of the country are dying from jiggers, the road sector needs redress but this election has seen candidates dish out monetary benefits and allowances to supporters at a level that was unprecedented.

This is where the International donor community can perhaps become partners who ensure that tax payers money and in this case the soon to come ‘oil revenues’ are not misused to fund election campaigns of those in power.

In conclusion as much as I applaud the democratization process in Uganda from one party system to a Multi party democracy, we need to create a system that allows all candidates the ability to compete on merit in an election and not because they have the resources to buy off their opponents in my view this is when we shall meaningful progress.

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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