Control and Co-optation. State influence in the market and transport sectors in Kampala

view of one of Kampala's taxi parks (2012) @Anna Fichtmüller

view of one of Kampala’s taxi parks (2012) @Anna Fichtmüller

Anna Fichtmüller, ” Control and Co-optation. State influence in the market and transport sectors in Kampala”, Mambo! Volume XIV, (5) 2017.

It is said that the mobilization of particular interest groups is a vital component to the consolidation of democracy (Goodfellow 2017a). Thus, discovering a vibrant associational structure in the transport and market sectors in Uganda’s capital Kampala seems to give hope for the development of an active civil society. Both sectors are vital to the city’s economy. In a country that lacks industrialization trading, and particularly petty trading within the informal economy, has become an important source of income for a majority of Kampala inhabitants. Conservative estimates believe that there are about 200 markets in Kampala, of which only a quarter are gazetted by the Kampala Capital City Authority – KCCA (Monteith 2016 : 155). This does not take the numerous hawkers and street vendors into account. It is equally evoked as a place for the “common man” and thus an important target for political support. The transport sector on the other hand is estimated to employ about 100 000 people; it services many more commuters on a daily basis and has a large geographical outreach – it is an important tool for mobilization (Goodfellow 2017 : 1569). Since both sectors have a political clout and are well organized into associational structures, they appear to be important counterweights, representing the interests of the employees in their industries to the government. A closer look however, reveals the proximity between past and present associations with the government through a co-optation of the leadership and – more recently – the “de-democratization” of these structures by integrating their mandates into the work of the KCCA, a body controlled and appointed by the central government.

Read more of Anna Fichtmüller research on State influence in the market and transport sectors in Kampala here…

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