Published by ACFIM on

The Nexus between Commercialized Politics and Political Corruption

Political corruption sits at the root of commercialization of political and electoral processes hence rendering most state institutions weak in order to protect and promote influential private interests. These vested interests exploit the commercialized electoral processes where key electoral actors namely, candidates, business persons, and voters are anxiously in search of campaign money no matter the source and/or intent of the financier. 

The sum of these vested interests and results is what the study on Commercialized politics and monetization of politics referred to as state capture. State capture in this context denotes the influence in the formation of the basic rules of the game through private payments to public officials (Hellman and Kaufmann, 2000).

As such, elections are increasingly perceived as a business, attracting interest from among others cabals of “godfathers” at subnational and national levels, who sponsor political parties and/or candidates for quid-pro-quo reasons.

Even more concerning is the cost of sustaining elected leaders into political office through payment of salaries, allowances, and other emoluments for a bloated Parliament which comes with the ceaseless creation of new districts and constituencies. Uganda has 1.5 million electoral positions making politics the second biggest employer after agriculture. 

There is a correlation between electoral cycles and fiscal cycle where carrying out an election literary means “breaking the national treasury”. As such, commercialization of politics and electoral processes undeniably influences the quality of representation and democracy in Uganda like it is in many other African countries.

The performance of state institutions in terms of delivering on their mandate has been a growing public concern and a subject of debate since the early 2000s. The thrust of debate is on the declining performance of macroeconomic institutions and as well as the capacity of the state to provide or regulate goods and service provision. 

The decline is going on for such a long time that it appears to have become the new normal. At the root of the problem is the enigma of formal and informal power structures where the latter overrides the former. It manifests in such a way that, what seems to be legal on the surface is informal underneath. State institutions have largely been subjected to the politics of regime survival in Uganda, in ways that undermine their effectiveness thus pushing them into captivity. 

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