Monday, December 19, 2011

The Pervasive Patronage Network in M7's Uganda

A well known secret in Uganda is the free flow of money & largess, like the use of yellow envelops by the president, that underpins M7's patronage system. It distorts policies, influences election outcomes, and favors M7's stay in power! The web of Patronage network is a cancer eating away at the very core of Uganda's democracy! Its the currency of M7's stranglehold on Uganda's political landscape that has contaminated the country's democratic process. In her well written narrative of "Museveni's Uganda: Paradoxes of Power in a Hybrid Regime" - Professor Aili Mari Tripp says the way the NRM came to assert its dominance is through the central government's relationships with local governments and its control of district level appointments and funds. In the process the NRM has built a patronage network that serves it well during elections. To guarantee they keep their jobs NRM government appointed district commissioners end up as political mobilizers for the NRM during elections, sometimes preventing non-NRM supporters from campaigning and voting. In a country where the government is the main source of employment, careers and social mobility can only be achieved by getting involved in the web of patronage relationships, especially for the working poor peasant majority. It is difficult to maintain a patronage system without corruption and that's why corruption cases continue to dominate the news in Uganda. Without a patronage network the removal of presidential term limits amendment would never have been possible. Museveni would not have won reelection in February 2011 after 25 years in power! The recent reelection of former vice president Gilbert Bukenya ( who was found guilty of bribing voters! ) would not have been possible.

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