Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | There is a 47 percent increase in the number of parliamentary candidates from 1,747 in 2016 to 2,659 in the 2021 elections. In the 2011 elections, 1,730 candidates ran for parliamentary seats. In the 2016 elections, a parliamentary seat attracted four candidates on average compared to five candidates in the 2021 polls, according to data compiled by Uganda Radio Network.
There are currently 458 legislators in the 10th parliament. However, the number will increase to 528 legislators in the next parliament representing a 15% increase due to the introduction of the representatives for the elderly, new cities and constituencies. Many have attributed the increase in the number of parliamentary candidates to the emoluments that come with the position.
Each MP on average gets Shillings 20 million each month in addition to a host of allowances during their five year term, which makes it a lucrative business. Others attribute the increase to political awakening especially among young people in the country and adulteration of politics.
Henry Muguzi from the Alliance for Campaign Finance Monitoring (ACFIM) says that over the past years, a lot of things have happened in the political arena. He says politics is more paying compared to other sectors in the country, making it the most attractive for anyone who wants to make money.
He says it’s a distortion for MPs whose minimum academic qualification is Advanced level certificate to earn more compared to a medical doctor or professor. Muguzi says the collapse of institutions and state of joblessness in the country is highly responsible for people flocking to politics.
He says the increase in the number of constituencies has also contributed greatly to the increase in the number of contestants.
Frank Rusa, the Country Representative Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, says there has been a surge in the number of youthful candidates because the voting population is dominated by the young factor. Rusa also says the emergence of Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine and his People Power movement has inspired many to take on the political mantle.
Dr. Sam Kazibwe, a researcher and lecturer at Uganda Christian University says that the mobilization of several youths to contest in the 2021 elections is part of the reasons for the increase in the number of candidates. He however hastens to add that the bad economy, bastardization of politics and the fact that politics is a gamble that someone can win, many willingly take the risk.
He says although the numbers are going up, the calibre of people coming to Parliament continues to deteriorate.