This paper examines how the changing relationships between the Ugandan government, on the one side, and citizens and donors, on the other, affect public policy priorities. The authors hypothesize that citizens can affect government’s policy priority both as voters, as represented by civil society organizations and as tax payers, whereas the influence of donors is largely driven by the extent to which the government is reliant on aid. The analysis shows how the relationships have shifted from being consensual between the government, the citizens and donors on the desirability of poverty eradication strategies and social spending, to relationships for which consensus is waning and the government is moving (back) to policies of infrastructural development and structural transformation of the economy. In the former period, donors provided the majority of funding and, with the introduction of elections, citizens’ preferences became an important political consideration. In the latter period, donors have lost some of their erstwhile funding dominance, the government is building new partnerships, and social sector expansion has lost much of its electoral appeal.
Anne Mette Kjær is Associate Professor at the Department for Political Science and Governance, Aarhus University, Denmark. Marianne S. Ulriksen is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Development in Africa, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa.