A dominant narrative exists in the literature concerning the financial strategy of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) regime of President Yoweri Museveni in recent Ugandan elections. This posits that the regime relies on public or state-linked resources sent from the centre of government to the rural periphery so as to materially influence voters to support its candidates. While it is certainly true that the NRM collectively takes advantage of its access to state resources to finance its quintennial re-election campaign, this paper will challenge the exclusivity of this representation by presenting two findings from the 2016 polls. The first is that while the structures of centre-to-periphery clientelist distribution have grown significantly over the past decades, the popular expectations among the electorate of what politicians can and should distribute – during both term time and election campaigns – have grown yet faster than this expanding system can service. Second, following from this conclusion, the burden of funding this patronage deficit has fallen on rural elites themselves at election time, who mobilise personal resources into their campaigns to satisfy the growing norms of entitlement among citizens – norms sustained by the extreme competitiveness of intra-NRM local politics. Candidates from across the spectrum face intense pressure to meet these campaign costs, often after saving for years, mortgaging properties, and taking on enormous personal debt. This paper investigates the cause, structure, and extent of self-financed campaigning, building on evidence from three traditionally pro-NRM rural districts in southern Uganda – Kyenjojo, Kayunga, and Bugiri. It concludes that the systemic sourcing of private campaign finance within this rural periphery is more than just a by-product of the NRM’s collective electoral renewal: it is a structural pillar of it on par with the much-discussed abuse of public funds.