COMMERCIALIZED POLITICS BREAKING POLITICAL PARTIES’ COHESION: CASE OF THE NATIONAL RESISTANCE MOVEMENT PARTY
Commercialized Politics Breaking Political Parties’ Cohesion: Case of The National Resistance Movement Party.
Since Uganda’s return to multi-party dispensation in 2005, competition for elective positions became cut-throat and the desire to win an election pushed majority of the politicians to start identifying themselves with strong political parties.
In Uganda today, it is almost obvious to politicians that when one becomes a flag bearer of a strong party, chances of that candidate winning an election become high. This is mostly why political party primaries are always flooded with huge sums of money splashed on voter inducement.
This has left Political parties’ tickets out for auction and those with the financial muscle often take the ticket regardless of some of them not being well grounded with the political party ideological orientation. Auctioning of political party tickets has overtime caused fratricidal wars within political parties where some members choose to leave and contest as independent candidates.
This was witnessed in the recently concluded National Resistance Movement (NRM) party primary elections which became a “market place” contest of selling and buying of votes. Candidates were seen procuring ambulances, repairing and drilling boreholes,
construction of roads and cash giveaways to groups among others.
The financially weak candidates felt cheated because they could not compete effectively with those with money for the party ticket. The disgruntled team decided to opt out of the party and this has seen many contesting as independent candidates particularly for
position of member of parliament. The NRM Party leadership quickly sensed danger on the issue and constituted a team to reconcile members who had defected the party to run as independents. Some of the conditions that the independent candidates who lost in the NRM primaries pushed for included the need for the party to refund the money which they spent during campaigns and nominations before they could step down.
Those that resigned from the civil service jobs to join politics are demanded that they should be reinstated and only if these two conditions were met by the party, would they be willing to be denominated and back the party flag bearers. Its impractical for the NRM to meet these set terms and conditions due to the fact that the party does not have such amounts to compensate the defeated candidates. NRM needs to find viable ways of dealing with commercialization of politics within the party primaries as some of their senior party leaders have already raised alarms concerning the issue.
“The struggle to obtain the party ticket to contest for elective positions is no longer driven by the desire to transform the country and promote the party ideology but to find a way to get money from the government.” senior presidential advisor Abdul Nadduli, Capt. Mike Mukula who contested for National Vice Chairperson Eastern region raised an alarm during the NRM Central Executive Committee campaigns stating that they were extremely monetary. He narrated to the Daily Monitor that throughout his political journey, he had never encountered a campaign as expensive as this one.
“If this is how the 2026 campaigns are going to be held ,I am sorry, I will opt out of them. Government needs to pick interest in knowing where some of the campaign money comes from. I have never seen money like the one that is being splashed around,” said Mukula. Indeed, if this level of commercialization of politics is not addressed, Uganda is going to see most political parties lose out most of their capable leaders.