Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | More than 50 per cent of parliamentary candidates in the 2021 elections are Independents, according to data compiled by Uganda Radio Network.1338 of the 2,659 parliamentary candidates are Independents representing 50.3 per cent.
The remaining 1,321 comprise the National Resistance Movement (NRM) 487 candidates, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) 281, National Unity Platform (NUP) 242, Democratic Party (DP) 120 and Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) 116.
Others are Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) 42, Justice Forum (JEEMA) 19, Ecological Party of Uganda (EPU) 5, Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) 3, and Conservative Party (CP) 2 while Uganda Economic Party (UEP) Congress Service and Volunteers organization (COSEVO) Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Forum for Integrity in Leadership (FIL), have one candidate each.
The data also shows that the number of independents has continued to rise as more Ugandans seek to participate in the general elections compared to the previous polls. In 2016, 1,747 people contested for parliamentary seats. Of these 909 were independent candidates.
According to the data, Jinja Division North has the highest number of independents with 12 candidates followed by Samia Bugwe County North with 11 independents and Kigulu County South with 10 Independents. Others are Bbale County, Nakawa West, Kigulu North with 9 independent candidates each.
Bunya East, Toroma County, Rubaga South, Laroo-Pece division, Bukooli Central and Kibuku Woman parliamentary race have 8 independent candidates. Aswa, Bugabula South, Busiki North, Budaka Woman MP, Namayingo South, Bunyangabu County and Rukungiri and Busia Municipality have also attracted 8 independents each.
Political experts say there is need for Parliamentary reforms to cater to the growing number of independent candidates, while others say there is need for parties to examine themselves given the huge number of independents.
Frank Rusa, the Country Representative Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy attributes the huge number of independents on the failure by political parties to penetrate the population because of the failure to perfect internal democracy.
Rusa, who is also the Executive Secretary of Interparty Organization for Dialogue (IPOD), says that the fact that political parties are targeted by security agencies makes it safer for one to contest as an independent. He says that presence of many independents in parliament undermines party positions and fuels individual convictions.
Crispin Kaheru, an election expert says that the many Independent candidates mean that people continue to lose interest in political parties. He says Uganda is still caught up in the individual merit system and movement system among others.
Kaheru says that it looks like parliament will have more independents compared to the opposition and possibly the NRM, which might trigger constitutional changes.
Yasin Ssekamatte, a political analyst says parties have definitely failed to meet the needs of the candidates. He says the parties are not doing enough for candidates and thereby can’t influence their decision.
In August this year, the former Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Prof, Morris Ogenga Latigo, who decided to abandon FDC and run as an independent for the Agago North parliamentary seat, said political parties are no longer serving their purpose.
“I am not joining any party; I prefer to serve the country at my own merit. I think there is no party I can join as most of them don’t serve any purpose… See what is happening in these parties, the fighting; very shameful for some of us who look at the bigger picture for this country” Ogenga said.
Data Research Contributors
Christine Kabazira & Junior Twinamatsiko