On Monday, November 11, Daily Monitor reported that Ms Jeanette McCarthy, the newly elected mayor of Boston City in the US, pledge to support a bid by Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, to run for president of Uganda in 2021.
According to Ms McCarthy, “It begins with courageous people when there is injustice that is what everyone is looking for in Uganda because democracy in that country is not so good. I can assure Mr Wine that USA will give you support.”
Bobi Wine is reported to be travelling across different parts of the US, giving television interviews and looking for different opportunities to raise financial support for the presidential election in 2021.
The open declaration of support for Bobi Wine from the mayor seems to be a big morale boost in MP Kyagulanyi’s political camp.
Although this, according to Col Shaban Bantariza, the government spokesperson, “is nonsense”.
“Tell that mayor that Bobi Wine’s constituency is in Uganda. How can her comment affect the voters in Uganda who are going to choose their leader? The USA should know that we don’t need their help,” the deputy executive director of the Uganda Media Centre says.
The response from the government spokesperson is an obvious and expected reaction to water down the fundraising drive in the opponent’s camp.
However, it is a well-known fact that politics in any and almost all substantial elections in Uganda involves large sums of money.
Therefore, support from the Boston mayor and her ilk could be significant in financing Kyagulanyi’s presidential campaign. Thereby, enabling Bobi Wine to pose a strong challenge to incumbent president Yoweri Museveni.
In October 2018, State minister for Finance in charge of Planning David Bahati informed Parliament’s Local Government and Public Service Committee that the 2021 general election will cost Shs700 billion.
This would be an increment from Shs419.9 billion spent in the 2016 general election. Clearly, the cost of elections and politics in Uganda requires deep pockets not only for government but also for candidates.
A recent study titled ‘Unregulated campaign spending and its impact on electoral participants in Uganda’ by civil society group Alliance for Campaign Finance Monitoring-Uganda indicated that in 2011 and in 2016, presidential elections were marred with “spending wars” between political parties and electoral candidates.
The group suspects that 2021 will take campaign spending to astronomical levels. According to the study, the combined figure of campaign expenditure could easily double that of 2016 since candidates are expressing strong willingness to pay for votes.
In addition, campaign agents and voters are expressing insatiable desire to take in as much gifts and cash as possible from candidates.
An earlier study by the same organisation estimated that in the 2016 elections, approximately Shs2.4 trillion was spent by political parties and candidates on presidential and parliamentary election campaigns countrywide.
The alliance predicts that contestants for MP position in 2021 will need between Shs500 million ($137,000) and Shs1billion ($274,000) to spend.
Therefore, given that political campaigns are highly expensive, especially for new presidential entrants like MP Kyagulanyi, any financial contributions would seem like liquid gold.
Since financial inflow taps have started loosening from different parts of the world, violence should not be used against innocent voters to counter the success of Opposition candidates’ fundsraisers.