Friday June 27 2014

Activists want limit on money spent by presidential candidates

Makindye East MP John Simbwa speaks

Makindye East MP John Simbwa speaks to journalists in Kampala yesterday. Photo by Stephen Otage 


PARLIAMENT- Anti-corruption activists are pushing for electoral reforms that will establish a limit on how much money presidential and parliamentary candidates as well as people standing for other elective posts should spend on election campaigns.

The activists reason that politics is becoming heavily monetarised, hence denying Ugandans a chance to be represented by good leaders because some rich but incapable politicians bribe their way to top leadership positions.

They say putting a limit on how much money can be spent on election campaigns will allow poor but capable candidates to contest and win elections.

The initiative is spearheaded by Makindye East MP John Simbwa in conjunction with civil society organisations that subscribe to the Black Monday Movement.

Speaking at a Black Monday movement event to mark the ongoing fourth national civil society fair yesterday, Mr Simbwa said he is working with some MPs and civil society to propose amendments to the electoral laws.

“Among the electoral reforms, we want, is to put a limit on how much money the President and MPs can spend on elections. The corrupt have assumed offices meant for honest leaders,” he said.

Mr Ssimbwa tabled before Parliament the Anti-Corruption Amendment Bill, 2012, which among others, proposes the confiscation of benefits derived from corruption, embezzlement, abuse of office and causing financial loss.

The Bill is before the parliamentary Legal Committee for scrutiny.
While presidential aspirants pay Shs8 million to qualify to contest for the elections, each receives about Shs20 million to conduct campaigns.

Individual parties, however, sponsor their candidates although the Opposition has time and again accused the President of using State resources to fund his campaigns.

Some MPs reportedly sell their properties while others acquire loans from banks to spend on elections.

Many have confessed to having spent nearly a billion Shillings on campaigns.
The proposal’s implementation would, however, face some huddles since most leaders do not declare how much they spend on elections.

Mr Ssimbwa said people must shun politicians who come to them with huge cash to solicit their votes.

The government deputy Chief Whip, Mr David Bahati, when contacted to give his views on the proposed electoral reforms, said he would comment after they have been tabled before Parliament.

Mr Leonard Okello, the executive director of Uhuru Institute, said: “The message we are giving to government and to Ugandans is that they must stop corruption now.”