Published by Patra K on

How the youngest legislator in the 11th parliament came to be

Hon. Auma Hellen Wandera (pictured), Woman MP Busia, the youngest MP in the 11th parliament.

Politics has taken on the trajectory to become more commercialised over the years making the political terrain so expensive especially for the young people who don’t have the capacity to mobilise resources to contest for political office.

Despite this, 24-year-old Auma Wandera Hellen was able to navigate this highly commercialized political environment to become the Busia Woman MP making her the youngest legislator in the 11th parliament.

Hon. Auma Wandera who was a guest on last week’s episode of ACFIM Talks holds a bachelor’s degree of Arts in social sciences from Kyambogo University and is also an entrepreneur with a fish vending business and boutique which enabled her to raise some of her campaign funds.

Busia being one of the poorest districts in Bukedi district in spite of being a border trade town is what inspired her to stand in order to change the standard of living of the people of her home district. Hon. Auma shared that her family initially mocked her aspirations to stand because they had concerns about how they would raise resources to support her candidature given the current political disposition that requires a lot of money to effectively run a successful campaign.

Being the NRM flag bearer, she spent over UGX 30 million ($8.4 million), a loan her mother got from the bank to facilitate her campaigns for the party primaries which she confessed were very expensive to run. For the general elections, Hon. Auma revealed that she did not use a lot of her personal money because the NRM party supported its flag bearers with UGX 50 million ($ 14.1 million) which she used to support her campaign activities.

Given the nature of the hybrid election, Hon. Auma was forced to conduct door-to-door campaigns with voters constantly demanding handouts. The voters in the villages would say to her “otulese otya” literally meaning how have you left us and when she wasn’t able to give it to them, they barked and abused her. Those in the municipalities sympathized with her since she was young and told her they were “lending” her votes but she would have to pay them back once she got into parliament.

For transportation, she used boda-bodas (public motorcycles) which she sometimes hired on credit because she didn’t have money to pay them. Hon. Auma mentioned that she only appeared twice on the radio because she didn’t have money to pay for airtime.

From the monetary support she received from the NRM, she kept aside UGX 30 million ($8.4 million) for “finishing” the final lap of the election. On E-day, she gave each of the polling agents UGX 5,000 ($1.4), and yet her opponents were giving at least UGX 20,000 ($5.63) and she was scared her agents would be bought off since she was giving little money.

Hon. Auma emphasized that government should strictly enforce the Section 68 Parliamentary Election Act, 2015 that deals with vote bribery in order to put an end to the ever-increasing influence of money over electoral outcomes.

If you missed this interesting episode, click here to watch the full video. 

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