Alarming revelations from a recent Afrobarometer survey suggest that Uganda's democracy is facing a perilous decline, prompting concerns among politicians and researchers about the potential consequences if immediate action is not taken.
The 2021/2022 survey, spanning over 39 countries, including Uganda, indicates a stark disparity between the demand for democracy and its actual implementation.
Experts warn that this trend is contributing to a surge in coups across Africa, particularly in the western regions.
"Uganda, once seen as a stronghold of democracy, is now at a critical juncture. The findings are a red flag, indicating that urgent measures are needed to reverse this unsettling trajectory," reads the afrobarometer survey report.
The report reveals that while 62% of Ugandans express a commitment to a democratic system, only 34% believe that Uganda currently experiences full-fledged democracy.
Furthermore, a significant gap is observed between the desire for fair elections (83%) and the perception of the last election as free and fair (55%).
Researcher Francis Kibirige attributes these discrepancies to the lack of essential services and perceived injustices, shaping how Ugandans view the democratic process.
However, seasoned politicians Capt Francis Babu and Dr Lawrence Sserwambala argue that the chaos is rooted in a lack of understanding, as democracy was introduced as an alien system of governance.
"Democracy, being a relatively new concept, has yet to be fully grasped by many Ugandans. This knowledge gap is fueling unrest and challenges in its implementation," explains Capt Francis Babu.
The survey also unveils a paradox, with 79% of Ugandans expressing a desire for multiparty competition, while an equal number (74%) believe it often leads to violence.
Former opposition leader Winnie Kiiza advocates for a step back to reconsider constitutional amendments as a means to address these concerns.