KAMPALA – A report has revealed that candidates vying for parliamentary seats in the 2021 general elections are set to spend a minimum of UGX500M to fund their campaigns.
The research findings were revealed by Henry Muguzi, Executive Director, Alliance for Election Finance Monitoring (ACFIM) in a research study dubbed; Unregulated campaign spending and its impact on electoral participants in Uganda.
The research finding were released today during a public dialogue on electoral organised by Westminster Foundation for Democracy held in Kampala.
Muguzi revealed that the study showed that electoral financing has been growing since 1996 but this growth turned exponentially in 2005 when Uganda returned to multi-party democracy and that most political leaders consider politics as employment.
He said as a result, the growth has bred ground for political corruption, weak political accountability and poor service delivery, breakdown of trust in democratic process of the election which has in part-bred votes apathy.
Muguzi said, “The study estimates that a minimum campaign spending for MPs in 2021 to be in excess 500m. Public perception is that business and rich individuals will bankroll the elevation. Electorates also think that seekers of political office are driven primarily by their material self-interest.”
The study also revealed that electoral outcomes over the past 3 electoral cycles have not translated into improved livelihood and that voters respond only to money not ideology as well as belief that party flags open economic doors.
The study also cautioned that as a result of the heavy election financing, this would lead to collapse of personal businesses because those who have business empires spend their money on election, some candidates will fail to finance living costs and lead to depletion of all personal savings especially for incumbents.
In its recommendations, the report called for enactment of standalone election campaign finance legislation in accordance with good governance, carry out rigorous and sustained civic education aimed at changing the commercialised attitude of electorate.
The report also called for tightening provisions on vote buying to bar culprits from contesting for at least five years especially political leaders whose election are nullified in court of law.
However, Ssozi Mulindwa (Lugazi Municipality) said that the gospel against electoral financing has to be spread to both politicians and even citizens must have integrity.
Joseph Munyangabo, Country Representative Westminster Foundation for Democracy said that he hopes Uganda will begin having many conversations on one of the most important elements and how it has affected participation and meaningful representation.