Museveni spent Shs773b on 2016 campaign - report

Clockwise: President Museveni, Venansious Baryamureeba, Joseph Mabirizi, Amama Mbabazi, Kizza Besigye, Benon Biraaro, Faith Kyalya and Abed Bwanika

What you need to know:

  • Museveni: Shs4.8b (November), Shs22.2b, (December), Shs50b (January), Shs34b February
  • Mbabazi: Shs850m (November), Shs500m (December), Shs3b (January), Shs3.5b (February)
  • Besigye: Shs129 (November), Shs847m (December), Shs654m (January), Shs551m (February)
    Itemised campaign expenses for major candidates:
  • Museveni: Selected campaign materials (Shs 25b), donations (23b), transport expenses (Shs14b).
  • Amama Mbabazi: Selected campaign materials (Shs1.4b), campaign events/rally/meetings (Shs1.3b), campaign managers/agents (Shs.2b), advertising (Shs1b)
  • Besigye: Selected campaign materials (Shs662m), transport (Shs340m), advertising (Shs297m).


President Museveni is estimated to have spent a minimum of $231m (Shs773b) to secure a fifth elective term in office, a report by activists who tracked the money that was poured into the 2016 campaigns, has revealed.

Mr Museveni’s spending was followed by the Go Forward’s Amama Mbabazi, who is estimated to have used $19.9m (Shs66b) to market his first-time bid for the presidency.

FDC flag bearer Kizza Besigye, who was the runner-up in the election, is estimated to have used $4.5m (Shs15b) to traverse the 112 districts.Dr Besigye collected Shs97m from his supporters.
The other five candidates are estimated to have spent less than a billion shillings each.

Prof Venansious Baryamureeba $0.46m (Shs1.5b), Benon Biraaro $0.26m (Shs871m), Abed Bwanika $0.24(Shs841m), Joseph Mabirizi $ 0.13m (Shs435m) and Maureen Kyalya $ 0.02m (Shs67m).

This money does not include the nomination fees paid to the Electoral Commission.

The report by Alliance for Campaign Finance Monitoring (ACFIM), a loose coalition of CSO activists, is based on data that was collected from a sample of 16 districts throughout the three-month campaign period and extrapolated to cover all 112 districts in the country.

The sampled districts were; Kampala, Luweero, Masaka, Iganga, Nwoya, Hoima, Kanungu, Kabarole, Apac, Bushenyi, Kabale, Kabarole, Lira, Katakwi, Moroto and Arua.

ACFIM estimates that presidential candidates spent a combined total of at least Shs857b to run their campaigns, excluding money that was spent at national level to for instance, convening delegates’ conferences and holding party primaries.

The report notes that spending on selected campaign material such as branded paraphernalia accounted for the biggest chunk of presidential candidates’ expenditure. The report estimates that Shs28b was spent on campaign materials, Shs23b for donations and fundraising and Shs16b for transport expenses in the 16 districts surveyed.

Mr Museveni is estimated to have spent Shs25b on campaign materials such as branded T-Shirts, fliers, caps and bandanas while Mr Mbabazi spent Shs1.4b on the same venture. Dr Besigye is estimated to have spent Shs662m on such campaign materials.

But campaign teams of the three leading candidates all reacted to the report’s findings with skepticism, insisting that the figures are an exaggeration.
NRM deputy secretary general Richard Todwong dismissed the report’s findings as “nonsense and total rubbish”, saying the party spent Shs20m per constituency during the campaigns. “Where would Shs333b [money reportedly spent by NRM party] come from? If they are saying that we got government money, and then the Auditor General would have found out,” Mr Todwong said.

Ms Margaret Lukowe, the deputy communications director of Mr Mbabazi’s Go-Forward team, said her candidate could have spent a maximum of Shs10b, saying expenses like accommodation were catered for by supporters who offered them at no cost.

“It [Shs 53b] is an over-estimation. Maybe they monetised everything. People would offer cars and accommodation. Not everything was monetised. In terms of actual cash, money that can be receipted and invoiced, the high estimate can be Shs10b. But the actual value of the campaign is of course higher,” Ms Lukowe said.

FDC spokesperson Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda said Dr Besigye was spending a maximum of Shs3m daily for the three-month campaign period, with the major chunk of the party’s expenditure going to nomination fees for parliamentary candidates.
“They are just speculators. Averagely, we were spending about Shs3m on Besigye. The biggest expenditure for FDC was on the parliamentary candidates whom we gave Shs3m each for nomination fees. As a party we did not spend more than Shs4b.Those speculators are going to make themselves look more ridiculous,” Dr Besigye said.

If this figure is to go by, then Dr Besigye spent Shs300m in 100 days of the campaign trail.

For political parties and candidates, the survey from the 16 districts across indicated that political parties and candidates had spent a minimum of $128m (Shs435b) during the election campaigns period.

With the figure extrapolated to factor in the 112 districts, the figure shoots up to $ 716m (Shs2.4 trillion).

In the 16 districts surveyed, 76 per cent of the expenditure was by the NRM to the tune of $98m (Shs333b) followed by Independent candidates.

The report also tracked pre-campaign expenditures that included holding national delegates conferences, party primaries and establishing campaign structures. Here, the report estimates that NRM spent about Shs100b, compared to FDC which spent Shs1.5b and Mr Mbabazi who used Shs327m in pre-campaign activities.

To convene the delegate’s conference that removed Mr Mbabazi as secretary general, NRM reportedly used Shs19 billion while Shs20b was used to assemble another delegate’s conference to approve Mr Museveni as the party’s sole candidate.

Vote-buying which has been a recurrent issue in national elections was also tracked.

According to the report, vote-buying was more pronounced in Kigezi sub-region at 33 per cent followed by Bugisu sub-region at 19 per cent, Busoga sub-region at 17 per cent and Lango sub-region at 13 per cent. All the other surveyed regions registered single-digit percentages of voter bribery. On a national scale, 9 per cent of the voters interviewed recorded incidences of voter bribery.

During the unsuccessful election petition that challenged his victory, Mr Mbabazi argued that Mr Museveni bribed voters by distributing Shs250,000 to all village councils.