LEADER OF OPPOSITION PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR CAMPAIGN FINANCE LEGISLATION
Leader of Opposition pledges support for campaign finance legislation
Alliance for Finance Monitoring (ACFIM) has embarked on the onerous task of mobilizing bipartisan support for the campaign finance legislation in the 11th Parliament. Last week, ACFIM met and held progressive discussions with the Leader of Opposition (LOP) in the 11th Parliament Hon. Mathias Mpuuga and his technical team, before meeting the Government Chief Whip Hon. Thomas Tayebwa.
The Leader of Opposition pledged to support the campaign finance legislation process as one way of introducing hygiene in Uganda’s politics which in his own words, “stinks”. On August 27, 2021, the six opposition political parties in Parliament unveiled the Opposition Legislative Agenda. It is the first time in Uganda’s political history that the opposition has come up with such an agenda.
The agenda comprises 17 points that propose among other things electoral reforms, constitution amendment, deepening decentralization, and health services sector review. Campaign finance legislation fits well into the subject of electoral reforms in order to promote open and transparent politics.
Campaign finance legislative reforms were discussed in the 10th Parliament among the electoral reform bills that government had tabled in July 2019. During the debate on the third and final reading on February 26, 2020, the legislators unequivocally agreed that Uganda needs not to scatter pieces of campaign finance provisions in different legislative vehicles but to develop comprehensive legislation. Thus, the matter of developing a comprehensive campaign finance law was deferred to the 11th Parliament.
The campaign finance law that ACFIM is advocating for is anchored on four international standards for regulating money in electoral politics, namely:
- Fairness in political competition
- Integrity of elections
- Accountability in leadership
- Transparency in funding of politics
During the 10th Parliament, strong resistance to the campaign finance legislation came from the opposition legislators who felt that provisions on disclosure and reporting were fashioned as a ploy to target campaign financiers of opposition candidates as the country headed for 2021 general elections.
In the engagement with the Leader of Opposition and ACFIM technical team, there was concurrence between both parties that whereas some leaders often shy away from speaking out on issues of transparency, human rights, and rule of law, the 11th Parliament should set itself apart from its predecessors and lay a solid foundation for good governance.
The speed at which commercialization of politics is escalating in every other electoral cycle should be a point of serious concern to all Ugandans short of which, the country’s already fragile democracy will melt away. Yet, there seems to be a sense in which a growing number of Ugandans who consider democratic transfer of power as the best option for Uganda – a country that has never experienced a peaceful transfer of power.
It is the duty of the current political leaders (whether in government or opposition) to strive for enhancement of trust in democracy as the most viable system of governance in Uganda. And to achieve this, laws must be enacted to protect the country’s democracy from the corrosive effect of unregulated money in election campaigns.