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Of Extensive and Elusive Corruption in Uganda: Neo-Patronage, Power, and Narrow Interests

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 August 2013

Godfrey B. Asiimwe
Godfrey B. Asiimwe is a senior lecturer in development studies at Makerere University. E-mail:
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This article explores the prevalence of high-level political and bureaucratic corruption in postindependence Uganda, with particular focus on the narrow interests it serves and its impact on development and service delivery. It argues that high-level political corruption endures largely because it is situated within the framework of “neo”-patron-clientelism and skewed power relations. The article shows how institutions have not been able to effectively engage the inner-circle ruling elite due to a skewed power structure that serves narrow political interests. Grand bureaucratic and petty forms of corruption are equally extensive and challenging, though only the former have been affected by “zero tolerance” policies. The article concludes, however, that through its interplay of inclusion and exclusion, political corruption has generated contestations which undermine it and challenge the National Resistance Movement (NRM) regime.


Cet article explore la prévalence de corruption bureaucratique et politique à haut niveau en Ouganda depuis l’indépendance. Il se concentre en particulier sur les intérêts limités que la corruption sert ainsi que son impact sur le développement du pays et la qualité du service public. Cet article soutient que la corruption politique à haut niveau perdure principalement à cause du “nouveau” contexte de patronage/clientélisme en place et de relations de pouvoir biaisées. Il montre aussi comment les institutions n’ont pas été capables d’engager de manière efficace l’élite interne au pouvoir à cause d’une structure de pouvoir qui sert des intérêts politiques étroits. La corruption bureaucratique systémique côtoie une corruption quotidienne mineure, toutes deux sont vastement répandues et difficiles à combattre, bien que seule la première aie été affectée par des mesures de “tolérance zéro.” Cet article conclut cependant que la corruption politique, par l’intermédiaire du phénomène d’inclusion et d’exclusion, a généré des contestations qui la remettent en question et qui lancent un défi au régime du Mouvement de Résistance Nationale (MRN).

Copyright © African Studies Association 2013 

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