Democratic transition in East Africa (A case study of Uganda)
Ndungu, Samuel K
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The process of democratization in Uganda has been very slow despite a return of relative order in the country since 1986. There is need for an assessment to be carried on the Ugandan society to determine the internal and foreign factors that predispose the country to a slow democratic transition. This study seeks to determine the nature and state of democracy in Uganda, to investigate the societal factors that render democratic transition in Uganda slow and to examine the contribution of international actors towards the slow democratic transition of Uganda. The study is based on the democratic peace theory. According to Emanuel Kant, democratization would render the world safer as democracies are less likely to engage in war. This is because democracies require the consent of their citizens before they engage in wars. The citizens would naturally want to avoid war because it is they that would bear its costs. On the other hand, autocracies are prone to wars because the rulers suffer minimally from the effect of the wars. The study takes the research design of a case study. This design was chosen because it enables the researcher to trace out the natural history of a social unit and the relationship with the social factors and the forces involved in its surrounding environment. This design is supplemented by data obtained through interviews and use of questionnaires. This aspect of the research studied four elements of democracy as they are provided for in the Ugandan democracy. The four elements include the independence of the judiciary, the participation of women in governance, the credibility of elections conducted in Uganda, and the freedom of press in Uganda. In a study that involves 305 Ugandans, it was found that the participation of women in governance as a contribution towards democracy is rated rather highly scoring 3.06 in a scale where the maximum score was 5.0. This was followed by the independence of the judiciary scoring 3.0 in the same scale. Credibility of elections conducted in Uganda was found wanting scoring 2.67 in the same scale while the freedom of press was rated at 2.68. The overall average score for Uganda was 2.85, a rating that was interpreted to indicate ‘a partial democracy with minimal progression towards consolidation’. Local factors that contribute to slow democratization were identified as ethnicity, the influence of the colonial divisive legacy and the participation of the military in governance. Foreign factors that were found to have contributed to slow democratization include the events in the Congo in the 1960s and international politics during the cold war era. The study recommends that the representation of the army in parliament is incompatible with the growth of democracy and should be abolished.