The 5th Annual Symposium on Money in Politics in Africa ended with a clarion call on Governments in Africa to regulate private sector money in politics. The call was premised on concern about the escalating commercialization and monetization of elective politics in many African electoral jurisdictions, which is characterized by private businesses and corporations bankrolling incumbent political parties and powerful candidates for quid-pro-quo reasons.
The symposium which took place on Wednesday, October 26, 2022, was anchored on the theme: Private Sector and Political Financing in Africa. It was a hybrid event that was hosted in Kampala, Uganda, by Alliance for Finance Monitoring (ACFIM) and drew virtual participation across several African cities who joined live on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
The Keynote Speaker was Dr. Emmanuel Walyemera, a Law Don from the Cavendish University in Uganda while panelists came from Ghana, Uganda, and South Africa. West Africa was represented by Dr. Kojo Asante from the Ghana Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) while Southern Africa was represented by Ms Noxolo Gwala, an Elections Expert working with the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).
Physical panelists came from Uganda and they included Haji Issa Sekitto – a member of Kampala City Traders (KACITA) and Board member of Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), Hon. Jovah Kamateeka – a former legislator and former senior officer at Uganda Law Reform Commission, and Mr. John Walugembe – Executive Director of the Foundation for Small and Medium Enterprises (FSME).
The symposium discussions were premised on the context that politics and the private sector have a symbiotic relationship. On one hand, the private sector needs politicians for business protection and creating the enabling environment needed for business to thrive, while on the other hand, politicians need private businesses as a source of campaign finance donations. Thus, business companies/corporations, target the politicians who work in government as a strategy to win “big ticket/mega” public contracts such as infrastructure construction and supply of military hardware or equipment.
The fact that governments often spend over 60% of their total national budgets on public procurement, attracts the interest of the private sector. The practice is that when businessmen make political finance contributions, they expect public contracts and other benefits in return.
The worst-case scenario is when criminals hide under the umbrella of private sector and make political contributions with the intention that if they are seen to have friends in high political office, the Police will be tempted to avoid investigating their activities too thoroughly.
The symposium had five sub-themes, namely;
- Corporate Sponsorships and Campaign Financing
- Business interests and Political Party Funding
- Legal frameworks and corporate political financing
- Corporate capture and political finance in Africa
- Foreign capital and its influence on politics in Africa
Follow the symposium proceedings on the link below: