A new survey on election financing has found that parliamentary aspirants in next year’s elections will spend 10 times more than candidates of 15 years ago.
The survey by the Alliance for Campaign Finance Monitoring (ACFIM) explored the relationship between money and voters choices. ACFIM aocates increased transparency in the practice of financing political parties and election campaigns in Uganda.
About 146 MPs were randomly surveyed from 275 directly- elected, non-minister MPs. From the findings, MPs spend an average of Shs 4.6m each every time they visit their constituencies. Clustered in four regions, the survey found that MPs from western Uganda are the biggest spenders at Shs 6.1m per constituency visit.
These are followed by MPs from the east (Shs 4.6m), central region (Shs 4.5m), and northern Uganda (Shs 2.4m). On the basis of political affiliation, members of the ruling NRM spend a lot more than their Independent or opposition colleagues. NRM MPs average Shs 5.3m on each constituency visit, Shs 2.5m more than their opposition colleagues.
A veteran legislator is quoted as saying that MPs are judged in the constituencies by how much they give.
“People think that they should keep on milking you… and if you don’t do this in the eyes of the voters, you have not performed,” the unnamed MP said.
Afraid of losing their re-election bids, the legislators admitted that they are forced to finance projects that are not part of their responsibilities. Apart from addressing individual financial needs of constituents, MPs are also burdened with requests for contribution to projects such as construction of churches, mosques, schools and other communal projects.
The MPs spent an average of Shs 36.7m last year each in contributions to such projects, according to the survey. MPs from western Uganda still lead here, with each averaging Shs 45.9m in such donations. This expenditure is Shs 8.5m more than Buganda MPs spent. Eastern legislators spent Shs 35.7m each in contributions to communal projects, Shs 15.3m more than what each of the MPs from the north spent.
On communal services such as ambulances, boreholes, feeder roads, bridge repairs, public schools or health facilities that should be the responsibility of government each of the MPs spent an average of Shs 38.3m in the previous year. Ironically, ruling party MPs trailed their independent colleagues in making contributions to such projects.
According to the survey results, independent MPs spent on average Shs 85.6m, more than double what the NRM MPs offered. The burden is mostly shouldered by MPs from the east who on average spend Shs 60.9m, followed by their central region colleagues at Shs 43.6m.
This is the only area where MPs from the west spend less at an average of Shs 31.3m while the average expenditure of each MP from the north stands at Shs 22.1m.
The sources of the funds are not explained, according to the survey report, but the respondents indicated that the figures might further increase as the country moves into the election year.
“The results of [the survey] suggest both a bleak future for Uganda’s democracy journey, and an increasingly non-responsive political leadership,” said Richard Ssewakiryanga, the head of the Uganda National NGO forum.
Based on the findings of the survey, civil society organizations (CSOs) under the Black Monday movement on March 30 launched a campaign dubbed anti-vote buyingselling through which they hope to mobilize the electorate against voter bribery ahead of the 2016 elections.
“Leaders that buy votes are not only irresponsible but also dangerous to a young and growing democracy. Ugandans should thus prepare to reject such leaders and vote for individuals with qualities of good leaders,” Ssewakiryanga said.
Source : The Observer