Mbale Politicians Overwhelmed by High Campaign Costs

3238 Views Mbale, Eastern Region, Uganda
Parliamentary candidates in Mbale district say the just-concluded campaigns were the most expensive election campaigns in Uganda's history. There is unanimous agreement among the candidates that the cost of wooing voters was extremely high. Those who participated in the 2006 elections say the level of vote buying was extreme and there seemed to be little action taken to regulate this. They however insist that people forced them into spending on cash handouts more interested in money than in the elecion manifestos. James Shinyabulo Mutende, a candidate for the Mbale Municipality parliamentary seat, says a large percentage of his funding went into door-to-door campaigns so he could have personal contact with the voters. He says that wherever he went people asked for money for community projects, school fees and food. Mutende, who contested and lost the Mbale Municipality by-elections last year, says he only managed to meet the high campaign costs because his party, the National Resistance Movement, financed his bid. //Cue in: "I have been in campaigns ..." Cue out "... in financial terms."// Six people are contesting for the Mbale Municipality seat. Apart from Shinyabulo Mutende of the NRM others are Joseph Sakwa of UPC and three independent candidates - Richard Masaba the current Mbale Mayor, Justin Mayumba and Elisha Simba. The sixth candidate is the incumbent MP, Jack Wamanga Wamai of the Forum for Democratic Change. High campaign costs were not only limited to Mbale. Patrick Amuriat, who has represented Kumi County in parliament since 2001, says the campaigns were the most expensive of his political career. //Cue in: "This one has been ..." Cue out: "... and other systems."// Despite the costs, many people say they are not interested in electing the richest or most flashy candidates. Jennifer Nakayembe, a trader in Mbale Market, says she has a good sense of the promises of each candidate. She says she will preserve her vote for leaders who can guarantee peace in Uganda. Abbey Budaki, a bodaboda operator, says he will vote for candidates with the best plan to create employment for his children. The elections take place tomorrow. ###