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Money largely influenced the outcomes of the 2021 general elections

Regional Illustration of how Money Largely Influenced the Outcomes of General Elections 2021 in Uganda.

Preliminary Analysis of the data collected by ACFIM on campaign spending shows that in most of the cases, the candidates who spent more went on to win elections. At the presidential level, incumbent candidate Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni crowded out the other presidential candidates in terms of campaign spending and also went on to be declared winner of the election.

At the parliamentary level, money determined the winner of the direct constituency member of Parliament elections in 56% of the constituencies ACFIM monitored.  However, in 44% of the cases, money did not work as there were other structural factors that influenced electoral outcomes. ACFIM monitoring scope covered 29 districts spread out in 14 sub-regions of Uganda.

The same case went for the District Woman Member of Parliament races where again the influence of money was even bigger. ACFIM analysis shows that big spenders went on to be declared winners in 58% of the districts monitored, as illustrated below.

Further analysis reveals that money was slightly more effective in the races for district woman Member of Parliament (58%) than in the races for the direct constituency members of Parliament (56%) which are largely dominated by men.

Regional Disparity

Across the geographical regions, whereas campaign spending largely influenced electoral outcomes by determining the winners in Eastern, Northern, and Western regions of Uganda, the reverse was true in the central region.  The graph below demonstrates that central region recorded the biggest number of big spenders who lost the election while other regions recorded fewer cases of big spenders who lost the elections. In other words in most of the cases, the candidates who were observed to have spent more are the same ones that went on to be declared winners.

There are a number of factors to explain why voters in the central region were able to transcend money in making electoral decisions, but two factors stand out. The first is the neutralizing power of the National Unity Platform when the electoral symbol – umbrella, is all that mattered. The second is the amendment for Article 102(b) that removed the age limit from the constitution, allowing President Museveni to run for a 6th term. Voters were more than happy to punish the incumbent candidates that had voted for the removal of that article.

  • Details of this analysis and much more will be contained in the Final Report on campaign spending on General Elections 2021 that will be released in May 2021.
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