26 May 2005

Uganda: Donors Fear Me, Says Museveni

Entebbe — The sustained donor attacks on the Movement government are not out of concern over corruption or opening up political space, but are largely prompted by strong fear that Mr Museveni would expose their ill intentions in Africa, the President has said.

Mr Museveni, who was on Tuesday addressing members of the Pan Africa Movement at Botanical Imperial Hotel in Entebbe, said the attacks are not prompted by the proposed Constitution amendment to remove presidential term limits.

"I told Mr Bush [president USA] and Tony Blair [Prime Minister of Britain] that we [Africans] are the donors; the ones you call donors are partial returners of what they had taken," he said.

"The bad reports these people are writing attacking us are not because of anything but they fear that that man [Museveni] will wake the people up."

"The problem with those people is not the third term or fighting corruption or multipartism, the songs they keep singing here...the problem is that they want to keep us there without growing," Museveni said.

"When you tell me about donors I just go to sleep," Museveni added, sending the participants into laughter.

The president belaboured a lengthy explanation of how the donor countries have used subsidies and protectionist policies to suffocate African economies. He said instead African countries have donated jobs to the west.

He made reference to China's development in spite of being a communist country.

"I met the Chinese president and he told me that if some countries were trying to dominate China, ......... what about us the small ones?" he said. Museveni added: "China is a communist country but it has attracted huge investments so the problem is not these songs (about political parties) people keep singing here."

Citing the example of cotton exports, Museveni said developed countries have been forced to bow to pressure and waive taxes on processed cotton.

Museveni said Uganda has lost its sovereignty "to foreign groups which come and keep telling us to do this and that."

"I am not aware of any African country which is sovereign; they are all dependant on western countries," he added. Museveni's government has come under intense criticism from the donor community over the way it is handling the political transition process and the proposed lifting of presidential term limits to allow Museveni seek a third term in 2006. Donors fund half of Uganda's annual budget. The British government withheld Shs17 billion in aid in March, saying the government was not doing enough towards establishing a level playing field for political parties.

The Irish government followed by threatening to hold back Shs4 billion aid. And recently a World Bank-commissioned report also recommended aid cuts to Uganda over the next three years, arguing that recent political developments have jeopardized the country's development agenda.

The Pan Africanists who were discussing the fast-tracking of the East African Federation, were debating whether Uganda would lose her sovereignty to Kenya and Tanzania.

"The sovereignty you are talking about is already surrendered to foreigners," Museveni said.

"But you cannot lose any sovereignty to any African brothers; we all have competitive advantages and within East Africa we cannot compete, we can only complement." The meeting, facilitated by Statistics Professor Sam Turya-Muhika identified lack of political will, mutual suspicion and fear of losing sovereignty as some of the major obstacles to the East African Federation.

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