Uganda has consistently ranked poorly on the annual corruption perception index by Transparency International and the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking. This is hardly surprising to analysts who closely follow the country’s politics. For the better part of the three decades of the current NRM regime, corrupt practices have been integral to the evolution of the political system. The longevity of the incumbent president, and his NRM party, has hinged significantly on clientelism and patronage executed through the state. This chapter argues that the key driver for the pervasiveness of regime-preserving corruption in Uganda is inclusive political co-optation as a regime survival strategy adopted in earnest in 1986. The strategy was initially aimed at assembling a broader spectrum of elite power-brokers to build a more inclusive governing coalition and attain legitimacy. Although the idea of ‘broad-based’ government officially ended in 1995, the NRM and Museveni continued to pursue the strategy of elite co-optation and inclusivity. This necessitated opening up avenues for rewarding and accommodating an ever-expanding coalition, thereby fuelling patronage inflation but also use of corruption to extract resources needed to oil the system. The upshot is that political corruption is not just an unintended consequence of the politics of co-optation, it has become critical to regime survival.
Kofi Takyi Asante and Moses Khisa
This chapter analyses four high-profile political corruption cases in Ghana’s fourth republic – the post-Rawlings era, which marked a decisive break from the military dictatorship of the 1980s and the ‘authoritarian democracy’ of the 1990s. Over the past two decades, Ghana has evolved a tradition of ruling-party alternation, which has contributed to democratic consolidation without, however, any significant reduction in the prevalence of corruption. A vibrant electoral democracy in the context of a generally unproductive economy has fuelled political corruption by creating incentives for politicians with short time horizons. This chapter examines the responses to political corruption in Ghana through the activities of several civil society organisations and the media. It summarises the case selection and the methodology used, followed by a presentation and analysis of four case studies of political corruption, both extractive and power preserving, in governments led by both NDC and NPP. The last section draws the broad implications of political corruption in a context of interaction between a clientelist political settlement and weak state institutions. In conclusion, we reflect on the prospects of anti-corruption activism within a competitive clientelist political settlement.