Uganda on the Eve of 50: The Legitimacy Challenge Aid, Autocrats, Plunder and an Independence-Era Jinx

"On the eve of turning 50 after independence, Uganda still faces the legitimacy challenge that dogged many African countries at independence, as ruling parties used state institutions to buy elections and the opposition, or to outlaw or jail competitors. Voter apathy in Uganda is growing, as elections become a façade which hides rural poverty. The country’s international aid partners were complicit in planting autocracy. Neither existing civil society nor the opposition will by themselves initiate change; but they might help to pull the country from the brink if they act in concert with external actors and progressives within the ruling party. The path to credible democratic reform runs through massive aid cuts pending reform of electoral and public finance laws that, through classified budgets, allow a president to personalise the country’s finances. However, that window is fast closing as the country starts to pump oil, making donors irrelevant."