As Uganda gears up for the 2026 general elections, concerns are mounting over the soaring costs associated with electoral campaigns, with experts warning that the upcoming polls could be the most expensive in the nation's history.
With an estimated 24 million voters expected to be registered for the 2026 election, there is apprehension that candidates will be compelled to dig deeper into their pockets to outspend their competitors in a bid to secure victory.
Charity Ahimbisibwe, Executive Director of the Electoral Laws and Governance Institute, highlighted the possibility of voter buying in inflating election expenses.
"Voter buying makes elections more expensive," Ahimbisibwe asserted.
Moreover, the nationwide voter education campaigns have added to the financial burden of elections, requiring substantial resources and logistical support, according to Ahimbisibwe.
Henry Muguzi, Executive Director of the Alliance for Finance Monitoring, laments the commercialization of politics, attributing it to the influence of wealthy individuals who seek political office for personal gain rather than public service.
"Politics has become a preserve of the rich," Muguzi remarked.
With over 24 million voters and 1.7 million positions up for election, Muguzi predicts that the 2026 election will surpass previous records in terms of costliness, exacerbating the financial strain on political parties and candidates.
The persistence of loopholes in campaign finance laws and limited transparency in electoral processes have further compounded the problem, leaving political entities with limited resources and few avenues for recourse.
"The lack of transparency and loopholes in campaign finance laws have exacerbated the commercialization of politics," noted Muguzi.
As Uganda navigates the complexities of its electoral landscape, the looming specter of escalating costs casts a shadow over the democratic process, underscoring the urgency for concerted efforts to promote transparency, accountability, and equitable participation in the electoral arena.