Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU), a civil society organization that advocates for electoral democracy in Uganda has written to President Museveni highlighting key issues affecting democracy in Uganda’s elections and among them including monetization of politics.
A report from a survey conducted by the Alliance for Campaign Finance Monitoring (ACFIM), a civil society organisations, in 16 districts of the country indicated that Shs 2.4 trillion was spent by political parties and candidates that contested in the presidential and parliamentary elections.
Of this, the report said that President Museveni and the ruling NRM party spent shs333 billion which was more than any other political party or independent candidate.
In a letter through their coordinator, Crispin Kaheru, CCEDU says the issue of monetization of elections and corruption in electoral processes is killing democracy in the country whereas creating a cycle of corruption among the public.
“One of the implications of using (enormous) public resources to finance personal political ambitions is to give the incumbent(s) an unfair advantage over their opponents. It also creates a cycle of corruption, in that public funds are stolen in order to finance political campaigns, and political victors loot the public coffers to accumulate wealth, recoup their illicit investment in the electoral exercise, and maintain influence over the electorate,”Kaheru said in the letter.
According to Kaheru, it is appalling and worrying that voter bribery is a trend that is continuing during election period adding that slowly by slowly the country will be destroyed and taken to the dogs.
They cite an example of the shs5 billion donated to 128 SACCOS in Rukungiri only a few weeks to the Ruungiri district woman MP by-election saying it was perceived as mobilizing electoral support for the ruling NRM party to influence voters by Museveni.
They however ask the president to come out not only to condemn but also do something to ensure the practice of monetization of politics ends.
“We laud your public condemnation of voter bribery, and we urge you to translate it into tangible actions, because inability to do so, sends mixed messages. Your Excellency, as a first step in averting this worrying trend, we must hinge electoral politics on a value-system that denotes competency, integrity and vision,” CCEDU says in their letter dated January 18.
“It is time to regulate campaign financing by setting and implementing limits for campaign spending for elective positions. The Election Campaign Financing Bill, 2018 , among other issues, seeks to regulate campaign financing during elections.”
The civil society organization also asks President Museveni to reign in on violence orchestrated during election period in various parts of the country.
Various parts of the country have experienced violence during elections in the past years, the recent being in Arua during the Municipality by-elections.
It is alleged that supporters of independent candidate Kassiano Wadri hurled stones at the presidential convoy shuttering its hind screens.
Over 30 people including legislators were arrested before being beaten by security.
However, CCEDU says there is need for investigations to bring into book all perpetuators of violence during elections as the first step to help weed out the vice.
“With specific regard to last year’s election violence, we invite you to support an impartial, transparent and conclusive inquiry into the cause of the violence, including the allegations of stoning the presidential motorcade during the Arua by-election,” CCEDU requests.
“Our shared commitment to peace and prosperity in our nation needs to be supported by transparency and the rule of law. Completing investigations and bringing to book all culprits, including those security officials who unlawfully tortured and killed Ugandans in the melee that ensued is critical for us as a society to learn from this episode and do better going forward.”
The civil society organization also calls for integrity within the national voters’ register in a bid to rid it of ghost voters as a way of ensuring transparency during elections.