Researching the politics of development



FINDINGS: How Uganda's political settlement is impeding PSRs

The Ugandan state presents an interesting puzzle for advocates of public sector reforms (PSRs). Though it has been subjected to several waves of reforms over the last three decades, these have generally not translated into progressive changes in how the central government functions.
In our latest Working Paper, Dr Badru Bukenya and Professor William Muhumuza argue that the root of this conundrum lies in the country’s political settlement. Drawing on ESID’s expanded political settlement framework, their research finds that over the last 15 years Uganda’s ruling elite has been exposed to unprecedented internal and external competition, leading to a shift in the balance of power from a dominant to vulnerable dominant political settlement.
Although the president (Yoweri Museveni) still wields significant power, it has been used to influence government agencies to meet short-term needs for regime maintenance, rather than to support the goals of PSR implementation. Almost all PSRs are donor-driven and the government primarily accepts them not so much as a development necessity, but because they are accompanied by unearned resources that are easily diverted into oiling patronage networks, which helps to keep elites in government.
To get the full picture, read the Working Paper ‘The politics of core sector public reform in Uganda: Behind the façade‘.
Listen to ESID co-Research Director Sam Hickey debate Uganda’s capacity for development at our recent symposium in Kampala.