President Yoweri Museveni has urged leaders of the opposition political parties in the country, together with their supporters, to work with the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Government to eradicate electoral violence and the monetisation of politics to give democracy and stability a chance to flourish in Uganda.
The President made the remarks at a meeting with a delegation of members of the Inter-Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD) at State House Entebbe, led by the Chairperson of the organisation, Mr. Fred Ebil.
“These are very serious matters. If you want democracy and stability, you should not tolerate this electoral violence and money,” he said.
Other members at the meeting included; Eddy Fred Kasajja of Justice Forum (JEMA); Hadijja Babirye Kizito who is the Chairperson of JEMA Women’s League; the Secretary General of NRM, Justine Kasule Lumumba and her Deputy, Richard Todwong, James Tuhairwe an NRM representative on the IPOD Council and Lawrence Okae, the National Chairperson of Uganda People’s Congress (UPC).
Others were; the Government Chief Whip, Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa and Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.
An apology was received from Salaam Musumba of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) for not being able to attend the Entebbe meeting with the President because of other engagements.
The Inter-Party Organisation for Dialogue was set up in 2010 to bring together leaders of all political shades in the country to foster a strong and vibrant multiparty democracy in Uganda based on peaceful co-existence of all citizens to work harmoniously.
The IPOD leaders, including FDC’s Proscovia Salaam Musumba, had prior to the meeting with the President, held another meeting with the NRM Secretary General, Justine Kasule Lumumba at the NRM Party Headquarters in Kampala, after which they addressed a joint press conference.
President Museveni, who had a very jovial interface with leaders of the opposition political parties, was responding to some of the concerns raised that included, among others, electoral violence, monetization of politics in the country and the issue of independents.
On electoral violence, Museveni described it as ‘a big shame’ adding that it was one of the main causes of the crisis in the country after independence. He stressed that the vice must not be tolerated.
“I was working on stopping electoral violence myself. But if I get support we shall eradicate it,” he stressed.
Commenting on the monetisation of politics, the President observed that the use of money was a very dangerous practice that can disenfranchise the electorate and make voters shun elections.
“If you can bring money and you are elected because of money not because of your performance, that means the people have no power to punish you. The vote should be to punish or to reward you for doing well,” he observed.
Regarding the issue of ‘Independents’ and Party discipline, President Museveni concurred with members of IPOD that a mechanism should be formulated to enable political parties control their members, especially those who lose in the primaries.
The delegation was very delighted to learn from President Museveni and National Chairman of NRM that he was ready to attend IPOD meetings that will be organized twice annually.
They were equally happy to note that the President gave green light for the IPOD summit to take place in Kampala on 12th December 2018 at which all leaders of the opposition political Parties are expected to attend. Some of the invited guests include former President of Tanzania, Mr. Benjamin William Mkapa.
President Museveni in 2016 spent approximately Shs773b, according to a report by Alliance for Campaign Finance Monitoring (ACFIM), a loose coalition of CSO activists.
Museveni’s expenditure in election has been on an increasing trend. At the beginning of January 2011, parliament allocated Shs85billion as supplementary to the presidency. The amount came at an opportune election time when Museveni was seeking a fourth term in office.
As part of the Ssh602b supplementary budget, each Member of Parliament (including opposition members) received a disbursement of USh 20 million (approximately US$8700).
Museveni and NRM’s expenditure in 2011 was up by 16 percent from the previous 2006 elections. With the political tide even higher, it is predictable Museveni will outspend both the Electoral Commission and the opposition.
Museveni’s 2016 spending was followed by Amama Mbabazi, who is estimated to have used $19.9m (Shs66b) to obtain 1.36% of the vote in his first bid to presidency.
FDC flag bearer Kizza Besigye, who was the runner-up in the election, is estimated to have used $4.5m (Shs15b), notably though, Besigye collected Shs97m from his supporters.
The others spent as follows; Prof Venansious Baryamureeba $0.46m (Shs1.5b), Benon Biraaro $0.26m (Shs871m), Abed Bwanika $0.24(Shs841m), Joseph Mabirizi $ 0.13m (Shs435m) and Maureen Kyalya $ 0.02m (Shs67m).
Therefore, in total, an estimated Shs 2.4 trillion was spent by political parties and candidates that contested in the presidential and parliamentary elections.