POLITICAL MOONLIGHTING IS KILLING ESSENCE OF DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATION IN UGANDA
Political moonlighting is killing essence of democratic representation in Uganda
Over 90% of the candidates who contested in rural constituencies for Member of Parliament in January 2021 general elections, resided in urban areas, notably Kampala capital city, SecretsKnown has learned. These candidates “parachuted” into the constituencies from Kampala and left immediately after elections. This is called “political moonlighting”.
It is mostly in urban constituencies where one will find a candidate staying in his/her constituency. The rural voters find themselves in a situation where none of the candidates contesting stays in the constituency and this is partly why they demand money from them at every encounter. In the process it has become very expensive for candidates to finance election campaigns.
But why would someone return to contest in the constituency where he or she disserted? SecretsKnown has learned that some of the constituency returnees who join politics, are not driven by the desire to serve, rather they are driven by the crave for ministerial appointments or to protect ill-gotten wealth and other selfish agendas.
Civil servants who have looted the country rush to join Parliament as one way of securing immunity from prosecution. Others seek to use the Parliament as a platform to protect their businesses. This has made politics a magnetic venture where everyone wants to join bearing in mind that once elected in to office, it is a guarantee that things will come.
An activist from Western Uganda did also inform Secrets Known that some of the corrupt public officials who are relieved of their duties have been seen returning home and decided to venture into elective politics for the purpose of covering up their misdeeds and avoiding to be indicted.
SecretsKnown learnt from an activist in Rwenzori subregion (Western Uganda) that most of the voters today have lost trust in the essence of leadership, because they are starved of leaders who understand their issues but face an abundancy of leaders who think and operate at a different wave length.
And because many of the electorate wallow in poverty and squalor, any politician who comes their way with money will be looked at as an “demi god”. He/she will be worshiped by voters because of his/her ability to respond to their individual needs. Some are even nick-named “Action Man/Woman”.
One of the former candidates who moonlighted in the recently concluded elections, informed SecretsKnown that “voters are always negative about their candidature, oftentimes they have been labelled as persons who are not knowledgeable of the constituency needs. Voters also do not care about the wealth of experience and knowledge that we come with. We are looked at as people who have money, and the only language they expect us to speak with them is the money language, this is disadvantaging our effective political participation” said former candidate for Member of Parliament.
Secretsknown has further learned that the persons who moonlight, often come with a lot of money. Some have used their financial power to conspire with the political party officials mainly at district level who do often sell to them party tickets. This has seen fratricidal wars emerge between those who understand the party ideology and those that just come and buy places.
It is the legitimate concern of voters that once leaders have been elected into political office, they go into hiding. They run away from their constituents whom they acted to care so much for during election campaigns.
Moving forward, ACFIM advocates that government of Uganda should explore the possibility of setting up a permanent office for area MPs with a resident researcher/officer who keeps collecting issues from the constituency and updating the Member of Parliament to aid effective representation. With that said, it should not mean that political leaders once elected into office should run away from voters who they entered into a social contract with.