MONEY IS THE REASON BEHIND NRM’S DOMINANCE OF ELECTIVE POSITIONS IN THE 2021 GENERAL ELECTIONS

Published by Patra K on

Money is the reason behind NRM’s dominance of elective positions in the 2021 general elections

H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni during campaigns in Teso late last year. (Photo courtesy of NRM)

In Uganda’s 2021 general elections, both political parties and independents fielded 92,015 candidates for electoral positions available. Only 20 political parties out of the 26 duly registered fielded 60,581 candidates for electoral positions at all levels right from presidential, parliamentary, and local government races. The National Resistance Movement (NRM) a political party that has been in power for the last three decades fielded 44,167 candidates which were the most compared to other political parties. 

In opposition, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) which is the biggest Opposition political party fielded only 6,549 followed by the new National Unity Platform (NUP) political party that field only 4,964, while the oldest Political party in Uganda, Democratic Party (DP) only managed to field 2,254. Details of fielded candidates are shown in the table below. 

NUMBER OF CANDIDATES PER POLITICAL AFFILIATION

Snr

Political Affiliation

No. of Candidates

1

National Resistance Movement

44,167

2

Forum for Democratic Change

6,549

3

National Unity Platform

4,964

4

Democratic Party

2254

5

Uganda People’s Congress

1,645

6

Alliance for National Transformation

741

7

Justice Forum

146

8

People’s Progressive Party

59

9

Ecological Party Uganda (EPU)

17

10

Conservative Party Uganda

10

11

Social Development Party (SDP)

8

12

Uganda Economic Party (UEP)

5

13

Republican Women and Youth Party (RWYP)

4

14

Revolutionary Peoples’ Party (RPP)

3

15

Action Party (AP)

2

16

Congress Service Volunteers Organisation (COSEVO)

2

17

Forum for Integrity in Leadership (FIL)

2

18

Liberal Democratic Transparency (LDT)

1

19

Peoples Development Party (PDP)

1

20

Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM)

1

21

Independents

31,434

TOTAL

92,015

 Source: Electoral Commission reports

Although Uganda returned to multiparty dispensation in 2005, going by the number of candidates fielded by political parties in the 2021 general elections clearly indicates that one political party has been able to dominate electoral positions. This is largely because the mass party has access to political finance.

It must be recalled that in 2010, Parliament amended the Political Party and Organisations Act, 2005 to provide for the use of government or other public resources for political party or organization activities. Section 14A of the Act provides that Government shall contribute funds or other public resources towards the activities of political parties or organizations represented in Parliament in accordance with the following principles:

a)   Registered Political Parties or Organizations shall be funded by Government under this Act in respect to elections and their day-to-day activities”

b) “In respect to elections, the government shall finance political parties and organizations on equal basis”

c) “In respect to normal day to day activities, funding shall be based on the numerical strength of each political party or organization in Parliament”

Ever since government of Uganda started funding political parties for their normal day-to-day activities, NRM has been getting the lion’s share due to her numerical strength in parliament. For instance in 2020 when government released UGX 15 billion ($4,248,757) to be shared by political parties with representation in parliament, NRM took 83.4% of the funds allotted. This was at the time most political parties needed money to facilitate the general election activities. Other political parties received peanuts as shown in the table below.

UGX 15 BILLION BUDGET ALLOTTED TO POLITICAL PARTIES REPRESENTED IN PARLIAMENT IN 2020

UGX 15 BILLION BUDGET ALLOTTED TO POLITICAL PARTIES REPRESENTED IN PARLIAMENT IN 2020

POLITICAL PARTY

No. OF SEATS

BUDGET ALLOCATION

 % SHARE

National Resistance Movement

301

12,506,925,208

83.4

Forum for Democratic Change

37

1,537,396,122

10.2

Democratic Party

15

623,268,698

4.2

Uganda People’s Congress

7

290,858,726

1.9

Justice Forum

1

41,551,246

0.3

Total

361

15,000,000,000

100

   Source: SecretsKnown Analysis

The ability of NRM to access such funds coupled with its fusion with the state institutions gives the party an unfair advantage over its opponents to field in many candidates in various political positions and contribute to their campaigns and nomination fees.

The inability of other political parties to access adequate political finances has made it difficult for them to effectively compete with NRM for the available elective positions across the country. This has continuously been exacerbated by government ignoring to fund political parties in respect of elections on an equal basis as required by section 14A(b) of the Political parties and organizations Act (as amended) 2005.

The secret known is that ignoring section 14A(b) by government is a deliberate attempt to deny political parties’ oxygen – money – during election campaigns to avoid a situation where they give the party in power a “bloody nose” during elections. This explains the reason why it’s the only party with the financial muscle to be able to field many candidates while other political parties languish. Such an act is corrosively impeding the multiparty democratic growth in Uganda.

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