chapter  8
Corruption in Political Financing
Pages 15

Introduction Corrupt practices have been associated with the financing of political parties and the funding of elections in many African countries.1 Particularly at election time, political parties are in need of large sums of money to pay for costly electoral campaigns. The public funding that is available, however, is limited, as is the amount of funding raised from membership subscription fees, the sale of party cards and souvenirs, and other legitimate political party activities. African political parties have therefore been obliged to raise funds from other sources such as private interests. For example, at least a dozen ways were identified by which the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) acquired resources to finance elections in Kenya in the 1990s (Wrong and Holman 2002). Many of these ways of political funding involved corrupt interactions between political leaders and business groups;2 in exchange for money, KANU improperly provided favours, government tenders, and special treatment to certain business concerns.3 Moreover, African ruling parties have failed to reveal their sources of funding as required by law, and regulatory bodies and local institutions have only weakly enforced disclosure laws regarding contributions. The present chapter documents how the ruling NRM government in Uganda has been financing election campaigning since the early 1990s. The Ugandan case shows similarities with other African countries as regards the variety of sources, such as party-owned businesses as well as private local and foreignowned firms that were tapped by the regime to fund its political activities at election time. Uganda also provides examples of ‘infamous’ sources of political contributions, particularly those derived from the military, which have not been commented on elsewhere in Africa. Mention is made as well of the substantial

donations received from heads of African governments; these have rarely been noted in regard to African political funding. Moreover, as in other African countries, these ways of raising political finance in Uganda revealed corrupt practices. Corruption was evident in various forms, including NRM leaders soliciting private donations in return for irregularly awarded favours and benefits. We also show that money raised by the NRM has at times been misappropriated by its own officials, leaving little to finance elections. And we point to the non-disclosure of contributions received by the NRM for financing its campaigning in various elections. This chapter seeks to provide insights into the corrupt nature of political funding in Uganda.4 We also consider briefly the responses of international donors and local institutions to corrupt political finance, and indicate the limits of attempts to combat it. Not only have local institutions failed to enforce the law that political parties declare their financial records, but there has also been little pressure from donors on the government to reveal its sources of funding, or insistence on controls over corrupt ways of raising funds.