Contesting for presidency should not be equated to contesting for LC1 chair or even a Parliamentary seat. A serious contender for president must have the resources and that is why normally one should be sponsored by a political party. What is most unfortunate in the Ugandan situation is when you have an incumbent with the ability to get resources from the consolidated fund and divert the same to his campaign. It is this practice that should be countered.
Given the current situation, a part from candidate Museveni, the electorate seem to show that they know Dr. Kizza Besigye more than other candidates. The reasons among others being:
1. He is contesting the 4th time for president 92001, 2006, 2011 & 2016), so people are used to him, yet he has been spending money all along to have reached the people;
2. There is sympathy that his votes have in the past been stolen, may be at one time he had won given the allegations;
3. He has sympathy of the voters given the way they have seen the state persecute and torture him;
4. He has given the voters the impression over time that he is an army man who can potentially take on the roles after Museveni given his abilities as army man.
In the circumstances, some people want to come up with a law that can limit the ability of a potential presidential candidate to make his manifesto/good intentions known. This will be wrong.
I had wanted to stand for president of Uganda in 2016, though forces beyond have made it impossible for me. I took time to make a budget which could facilitate me to put up a worthy show against the incumbent, and this was Ushs 60bn.
Justification for the money.
Just imagine the cost of vehicles a candidate may need to operate in 112 districts of Uganda. If one can raise the resources, he could have as many as a vehicle per district. The vehicles need fuel as well as repairs and maintenance for the whole duration till after the election.
To get the voters to know a candidate requires advertisements. What is wrong with raising say shs 5bn for the purpose or more?
A presidential candidate is expected to have a secretariat, and to this, may add branch offices in the country side, and these could run for a year, how much can you budget for this item so that you put a limit?
Posters are a necessity in each election, and these may be considered at the same time with bill boards. If one is to put 100 posters in each of the 57,000 villages in Uganda each costing shs 600, one would need at least shs 3,420,000,000.
On the polling day, given the 28,000 polling stations throughout Uganda, a candidate may consider about 2 representatives per polling station. If he budget’s a minimal of shs 50,000 for each to cover eats, transport and allowance for the day, this comes up to shs 2,800,000,000.
There must be a budget for legal services given the cost of mitigation in the cases that may arise before and immediately after the election.
There must also be a budget for treatment. More often than not, supporters get involved in accidents, and there is need to have funds to treat them as well as contributing to burial in case of death of immediate campaigners.
Before a flag bearer is chosen, there is a process each political party has to go through until it gets the delegates who choose the candidate. It is not logical to come up with a figure for such an arrangement.
Assuming some legislation is made regarding the ceiling to the amount of funds that can be used in a campaign how would a situation where supporters decide to get out of pocket funds and contribute say to printing posters, T-shirts, meeting the cost of airtime, buying fuel and any other?
My advice is simple, let us ensure that the incumbent does not put his fingers in the state coffers, but leave a candidate to fund-raise to manage the size of the budget he may have so that he is able to manage the campaign logistics.