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Tulane University

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Program Name

Uganda: Post-Conflict Transformation


This study looks at the electoral system in Uganda and the corruption and inefficiencies that go with it. In addition, this study delves into the most common electoral crimes and the way they are committed. Going even deeper, the study examines the reasons for bribery pervasiveness, the role of money in politics and the views locals have of their government and its leaders. Crucial institutions such as police, military, judiciary, Electoral Commission and civil society groups were also discussed in how they relate toelections and politics in Uganda.

The research design was qualitative, historical and descriptive. Information was gatheredby in-person interviews, library research for access to local newspapers, and Internet searches. Subjects ranged in age from high school to retired with most falling somewhere in between as active members in their field of work. Participants included elected officials from different parties, civil society organizations, members of the police and judiciary, Electoral Commission, students and village residents.

This study shines a direct light on the role that pervasive and extreme poverty plays in the Ugandan electoral system. Because of the desperate need of people—especially in the village—to acquire money, they were willing to accept bribes in order to feed their families, pay school fees or buy clothing. Political parties—including both the opposition and the rulings party—understand this immense need so they go door-to-door to buy votes before elections—a kilo of sugar in exchange for a tick on the ballot. Candidates did not stop at just bribing however. Violence and intimidation by youth militias or military officers prevented many from casting their rightful ballots, and blocked winning opposition candidates from earning a seat in parliament. Both the NRM and the opposition commit electoral fraud but it is the ruling party, led by PresidentYoweriMuseveni, that dominates the corrupt practices. More money, control of the military and all state institutions gives the NRM a powerful force that blows away the opposition, election after election. The future remains unclear but the people of Uganda are ready for change. Many, however, have little hope it can be attained anytime soon.


African Studies | Law and Politics | Political Science | Public Administration