BIG SPENDERS SAILED THROUGH AS ELECTION VICTORS
Big Spenders Sailed Through as Election Victors
Ugandans on the 14th January 2021 went to the polls to vote for their next president and parliamentarians after 64 days of campaigns. The campaign period was characterized by spending wars between candidates who largely directed money towards voter inducement, campaign administration, campaign publicity and election day activities.
There is a sense in which politicians in Uganda believe that politics is a lucrative business one can ever invest in and reap big returns. They seem to be willing to acquire huge loans, steal tax payers’ money and sell their valuable property to get money to run for elective positions.
In Uganda today, it is almost impossible to run an election campaign without spending colossal amounts of money. Candidates for the 2021 elections shared a perception that the more money one spends, the higher the chances of winning an election.
In the same vein, voters look at every election period as a time to take away some money or material inducements from politicians. With this kind of political culture being entrenched, pre-campaign and campaign periods are now dark days full of vote selling and buying, this has continued to escalate the election campaign spending war.
It is no longer a surprise to witness politicians who are interested in keeping or capturing elective positions kick-start their spending spree right after an election has been concluded. This early spending is often directed towards provision of social services and community goods such as drilling of boreholes, repair of broken culverts, ambulances and hospital beds among others.
Ideally service delivery is a government role and political leaders like members of parliament are just meant to lobby for those services instead of substituting the role of government in return for votes. The secret known is that most politicians spend enormously on campaigns with the motive of softening their political ground and also stifling competition of their financially weak political opponents.
But after witnessing most candidates spend enormously on campaigns, did money talk? It is important to note that whereas money plays a big role in running an effective election campaign it does not guarantee only those who spend big will always win.
There were some campaign spending outliers observed where ACFIM monitors estimate candidates to have spent upwards of UGX 1billion ($270,500) on campaigns. These include among others; Annet Mugisha of Bushenyi District, Dickson Kateshumbwa of Sheema Municipality, Ruth Acheng of Lira District, David Bahati of Ndorwa West, Moses Magogo of Budiope East, Peter Ogwang of Katakwi district, Igeme Nabeta of Jinja South East among others.
There are other cases in campaign spending where a candidate spent over UGX 500 million ($135,000) on party primaries and the general election, but lost the election. Cases in point include among others; Mubaraka Munyagwa of Kawempe South, Mariam Seif of Iganga District, Edward Ssekandi of Bukoto Central, Amelia Kyambadde of Mawookota North, Syda Bbumba of Nakaseke North, Peter Sematimba of Busiro South, Micheal Kabaziguruka of Nakawa East, Elioda Tumwesigye of Sheema Municipality.
Although some political candidates that spent big were unlucky and did not go through some outliers believed to have spent also over UGX 1billion managed to wrestle their competitors financially and ended up becoming eventual victors.
The voters are now awake to the reality that those who come with huge sum of money and splash it everywhere they go are not the right candidates to be voted for because they never return to people after winning their main preoccupation will be recouping what they invested in campaigns.