Benedicto Kiwanuka Memorial Lecture & Launch of "Reality Check" on Political Party Financing

Electoral Systems and their Implications on Election Results - Perspectives for Uganda

The event organised by KAS and the Foundation for African Development (FAD) contained the annual Kiwanuka Memorial Lecture and the launch of the publication “Political Party Financing in Uganda; a Critical Analysis in Reference to Other Countries”.


The late Benedicto Kiwanuka was the first Prime Minister of Uganda and leader of the internal self-government before independence, former Chief Justice of Uganda (1971-1972), and former President of Democratic Party (DP). He is acknowledged as a statesman who selflessly promoted democracy, justice and rule of law in Uganda.

Kiwanuka believed in Aristotle’s more than 2000 year old statement that “The rule of law is better than that of any individual.". He pursued justice for all, even in times of dictatorship, as it was the case when Idi Amin ruled Uganda in 1971 to 1979 In the course of that pursue, Kiwanuka openly opposed the 90 day order by Idi Amin to expel all Indians from Uganda as unconstitutional. During his time as Chief Justice his last attempt at restoring the rule of law, was to accept, to hear the case of a British National and Businessman who had been held incommunicado in Makindye Military Barracks on the orders of General Amin. Kiwanuka issued a court order that required that the British national be brought into court. He acquitted him on grounds that the army had no powers to detain a civilian. By that bold action in defence of rule of law the Chief Justice had allegedly angered Amin, and according to some experts signed his own death warrant.

Benedicto Kiwanuka was abducted from his chambers in the High Court, apparently by security agents, and has never been seen again. Up until today he supposedly lies somewhere in an unmarked grave.

The Foundation for African Development (FAD) with the support of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) organizes a lecture in memory of the late Ben Kiwanuka on an annual basis. The objective of the lecture is to keep the memory of Kiwanuka alive and to remember his unwavering commitment to human rights, justice, and democracy in Uganda.

The theme for this year’s public lecture is, “Electoral Systems and their implications on Election results; What is the most appropriate Electoral System for Uganda” Perspectives of Different Political Parties in Uganda.

An analysis of different electoral systems all over the world shows that a wide range of such systems is in place. Furthermore, even if two countries have the same electoral system, the way the system is implemented may differ significantly between different political systems. Each electoral system is based on specific values and consists of certain practices of voting, assigning seats (in case of parliamentary elections), sharing power based on electoral outcomes, and establishing state organs in relation to the percentage of votes a certain candidate or party was given. Furthermore, even though each system has some aspects of generic advantages and disadvantages, those aspects may not occur consistently in different social and political environments. Hence, there is no ‘ideal’ electoral system that fits every political environment. It has been established, however, that all electoral systems have one thing in common: for a successful and sustainable electoral system development or reform process, it is crucial to involve the broadest section of society possible, rather than the ruling elites only. Additionally, sensitizing the electorate to appreciate how the electoral system translates their votes into representative seats is key for an electoral system to show the results that the electorate voted for. Looking at the Ugandan context, where the ruling elite played the biggest part in determining the electoral system, and where many voters are completely uninformed about the electoral process as such and how their vote influences the power balance in the country, it is not surprising that calls for electoral reforms have been made by many different stakeholders.

As Uganda prepares for the 2016 general elections and the talk of electoral reforms is in the air, it is befitting to critically assess the electoral system the country employs to manage elections and create representative bodies, like the Ugandan parliament and local councils at all levels.

Closely connected to the question of the electoral system is the question how political parties within this system are financed in order for them to be able to fulfil their roles within the system. Furthermore, it is also interesteing and enlightening to analyse how money impacts on elections in a Democracy under different Electoral Systems. To answer those questions, KAS facilitated a critical analysis of political party financing in Uganda in reference to other countries. To that effect a book was written by Dr. Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere and it is to be launched within the framework of the public lecture.

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Imperial Royale Hotel, Kampala


Maike Messerschmidt

Maike Messerschmidt bild

Programme Officer

Maike.Messerschmidt@kas.de +256 312 262011/2