KAMPALA – Political analyst Fredrick Mutebi Golooba has attributed the increased commercialization of campaigns in Uganda on political parties falling short of ideological ideas to woo support from the electorate, which has led to political organisations resorting to money.
Mr. Golooba made the remarks during a roundtable on the cost of politics in the country organized by Westminster Foundation for Democracy and Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy in Kampala.
He said that apart from lacking the infrastructure and capacity to fully sponsor candidates, political parties also lack ideologies that can be used to lure electorates to vote for their candidates, something he says has left candidates to craft their own campaign messages.
“Parties in Uganda aren’t grounded on any identifiable part ideologies anymore, so candidates aren’t going out to campaign in promotion of any ideologies of the parties to which they claim to belong, but they have to craft their own campaign messages and if they don’t have messages, they can simply throw money around and get themselves elected,” Mr. Golooba said.
He added that the failure to craft messages by some candidates has pushed them to splash money around which has led to voters demanding for money irrespective of the message and capability of the candidate.
“Parties are also not present on the ground and here I will make an exception of the NRM but other parties are very thin on the ground and that means they have no infrastructure on the ground or support of candidates of people who campaign under their banners or colours. It means that candidates have to establish their own infrastructure to provide their logistical and other backup for their campaign,” said Golooba.
However, Nobert Mao, President General of Democratic Party refuted the claim that parties lack ideologies, saying that analysts should look at what motivates people to join politics and wondered how opposition parties will spread their ideologies if the political climate doesn’t permit them to do so.
Mr. Mao said, “Everything in life is based on motivation, find out what motivates people and you will see how to deal with them. We reject this idea that political parties lack ideology, it is just that they aren’t allowed to articulate their ideologies. We now have personal cantered politics. Are elections the answer? It seems elections aren’t the answer. We who are brick builders are referred to as moles even when they know we can’t be bribed.”
Hon. Salaam Musumba, FDC Vice-Chairperson Eastern Region while commenting on the cost of elections argued that elections in Uganda have been weaponised and there are consequences when activities are weaponised.
She said there was need for the issue of the cost of business to be looked at as a security matter and beyond legislative saying if politics is commercialized, it would be threatening the livelihood of Ugandans.
“All land has been bought and taken if politics is taken. We have every reason to find solutions to the problem we have created. Do we understand what we face as a country and the damage we have done ourselves? We have talked enough about commercialisation of politics, even people are sick and tired. We know where the problem is. The problem is bigger than what we want to choose and pick,” Musumba emphasised.