KAMPALA – Concerned citizens have called on the government to regulate the rate at which the private sector finances politics because it in turn kills the public interest of service delivery.
This was during the symposium on political financing in Uganda organized by the Alliance for Finance Monitoring (ACFIM) at Imperial Royale Hotel.
Mr. Henry Muguzi, CEO of ACFIM told the press that there has been an interplay between the private sector and the financing of politics in Africa.
He says that the private sector has been complaining for sometime that when the campaign period comes, they get a lot of requests to support political parties and candidates and that some of the political parties come threatening them that “you don’t support us, you will not survive tomorrow”.
“But also as citizens our concern has been that when we see private businesses funding political parties and candidates that win, even when they would have depleted their profits during the campaign period, afterwards they get to land very mega deals from government and these often results into shoddy work,” he said.
According to him, the private sector plays a lot of influence in determining who goes through as elected leader in a country where politics is so monetized.
Muguzi adds that they have realized that the private sector can’t thrive in Africa if they don’t have political backing which results into shoddy work and loss of public money because the government wants to pay back.
“We are saying these are all done without transparency because as citizens, we don’t get to know what they talk about but all we see are deals being cut.”
He says that by supporting political parties, business people do so for purposes of getting public contracts because the government is the source of all forms of bigger contracts.
“They get these contracts in a manner that defies all public procurement rules and regulations and what they deliver often isn’t what we feel provides value for money.”
Mr. Mukunda Julius, ED – The Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) noted that it is very important to ensure that they regulate how businesses get into financing politics because they can limit how much money is collected in terms of revenue.
“If you can see clearly, most people who get tax exemptions are rich people, which means that they have the capacity to finance whoever is giving these exemptions which limits how much money we get as a country.”
“Also, corruption and theft. 60% of our country’s budget is on procurement services. It means that rich people can be able to influence and finance those people who are giving contracts so that they get contracts themselves and whether they do shoddy work, nobody is going to ask them,” he added.
Mr. Mukunda also warned that unless the vice is regulated, “you will end up getting a foreign person financing a political party and take over a country, at the end of the day, for example, the oil we have been talking about in Bunyoro is taken over by another party that has got its own agenda, they sell all the oil and we remain folding hands.”
Giving a keynote address, Dr. Walyemera Daniel – Lawyer and Political Finance Expert noted that it is important for the public to know the source of money for each and every political party.
“If it’s coming from the US Embassy, let them tell us so that we know that if Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi is saying certain things, he is possibly being influenced by wherever he got the financing. It will be transparent and everybody will know what is influencing his decision making and then we will take him on because his interests are not in the US but in Uganda.”
“You can use examples of dirt money in South America where mafias have taken over some of the decision-making in the government because there is no regulation of that money and how it comes into governance.”
Unless it’s done, Dr. Walyemera warned that traffickers and drug dealers will finance politicians who will then take orders from these criminal syndicates.
Issa Ssekitto, the spokesperson of Kampala City Traders Association-KACITA said that “It is a big challenge that has reduced many things because of favoritism, discrimination, none payment of taxes and awarding of tenders to incompetent people.”
“We are strongly audited out of business deliberately. Companies have fallen out of business because of monopolization that is deliberately and politically initiated,” he decried.
He said that although it is good to have money in politics, it is dangerous once not regulated.
“It is good to have incentives but do we qualify them politically or economically?”
Mr. Ssekitto revealed that most of the Parliamentary committees will not buy your idea no matter how valid it may be unless it is backed with financial support.