Candidates spend big on party primaries in Uganda

 

Preliminary analysis from ACFIM campaign finance Database reveals that candidates for the National Resistance Movement(NRM) Party primary elections for Member of Parliament flag bearers that were conducted on September 4th, 2020, spent on average UGX 300 million (US $82,000) on campaigns. The bigger percentage of the spending 60% was directed towards voter inducement through handouts of cash and freebies. The major targets for voter inducement were women, youth, and the elderly.

There were outliers in Sheema Municipality and Bushenyi(Ankole), Ndorwa(Kigezi) among others where some candidates spent over UGX 1billion (US $274,000), some won while others lost. Observers reported “spending wars” in constituencies where an incumbent
Member of Parliament or Minister faced a strong challenger. These spending wars were observed in sub-regions of Kigezi and Ankole, while to a limited extent Greater Masaka, Rwenzori and Bunyoro sub-region.

The money that flowed in the NRM party primaries have a new definition to vote-buying. Retired Chief Justice James Ogoola compared polling lines in the NRM primaries to Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) were all a voter had to do was to get into the line to get money. The same practice carried through the NRM Party Primaries for Local Council 5 and Mayors, the difference was in scale.
If the momentum of campaign spending carries through, for anyone to have a fair share in the arena as a presidential candidate, they should have a budget in excess of UGX1.5 trillion (US $400 million) or else the incumbent president will have a field day come February 2021.

A Member of Parliament will have to spend upwards of UGX 700 million (US $190,000), while District LC 5 Chairpersons and Mayors will need a minimum budget of UGX 250 million (US $ 68,000). This is money one cannot recover through legitimate monthly emoluments during the 5-year tenure in office.

Preliminary analysis from ACFIM campaign finance Database based on the NRM Party primary Elections reveals that if the momentum of campaign spending carries through to 2021:

  • A presidential candidate is required to have in the budget in excess of UGX1.5 trillion (US $400 million.
  • A Member of Parliament will have to spend upwards of UGX 700 million (US $190,000),
  • District LC 5 Chairpersons and Mayors will need a minimum budget of UGX 250 million (US$ 68,000).