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OPINION: Blinken & Biden, Retain Your Dollars, Visas; Ugandans Will Still Build Uganda – Ofwono Opondo



By Ofwono Opondo
Back to Americans and the lessons in hypocrisy. Former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani once said, “A constructive approach to diplomacy doesn’t mean relinquishing one’s rights but to engage with a counterpart on equal and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives.” In the week that US government delivered more financial, lethal military aid, political and diplomatic cover for Israel’s indiscriminate genocidal war on Palestinians most of them little children in the tiny Gaza Strip, Secretary of State Antony Blinken also conveyed additional rebuke announcing a freeze on issuance of travel visas for Uganda government officials allegedly involved in human rights abuses.

A self-appointed international policeman who currently supports and offers a broad cover for Israe’s war of impunity with every hallmark of war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and glaring breaches of international law governing wars, cannot claim to punish Uganda over the Anti-homosexuality Act enacted by an elected Parliament through legitimate processes.

It’s an absurdity for Joe Biden whose own presidency is being contested by Donald Trump alleging fraud, voter suppression and electronic election cheating to purport to hold Uganda accountable over an election whose results Uganda’s Supreme Court upheld as valid and reflecting the will of voters in 2021. The same accusations that Biden’s regime throws at Yoweri Museveni were raised before the Uganda Courts which found them groundless.  For a country that claims to respect and uphold the rule of law, and judicial sanctity to continue waving false, unverified and unsubstantiated allegations is unstainable in the long run.

Gleaning social media posts, it almost looks like many Ugandans especially the young and uninformed generation falsely believe that Uganda cannot survive let alone prosper without US ‘aid’ although that ‘aid’ and patronage has kept Africa without exception as economic, technological, social and political underdogs. Even those without a passport, visa and any possibility however remote of traveling to the US in their lifetime think that Uganda is dead without US money.

It’s now up to President Yoweri Museveni, cabinet, parliament and the senior civil servants collectively who like wasteful and unproductive travels to western capitals to cut back their appetite, re-prioritize, enforce the much-needed frugality and diligence in service delivery so that Uganda withstands US blackmail like Cuba, Iran and Venezuela have done.

I have not had the opportunity to meet the fresh US Ambassador William W. Popp although am not keen to, but would assume he is a man here to promote mutual interests. But just an advisory, Uganda is for Ugandans as E. Michael Southwick, Jimmy J. Kolker, Jerry P. Lanier, Scott H. DeLisi, Deborah R. Malac and Natalie E. Brown found as they flew back, and Uganda is still here.

The rebuke against Uganda is part of a long well-established lesson in US policy hypocrisies but from which Uganda can, and will surely survive, and even prosper but only if our leaders and peoples become a little more serious as well as cautious. And there shouldn’t be any reason for unnecessary panic. Ugandan officials who were denied travel visas in 2013 and 2017 when the first anti-homosexuality law was passed, and presidential age limit was removed from the constitution are still well, alive and kicking.

Parliament Speaker, Anita Annet Among, who presided over the recently enacted anti-homosexuality law has said she is well regardless the US visa ban on her in April 2023. Therefore, the 348 MPs who voted in support of this law need not worry that the end of their world is around the corner. While the US in line with its coy visa policy has kept this latest list which could be fictitious remain secret, it doesn’t require much work to imagine those targeted. Most likely in addition to some ministers and MPs, it includes senior police, military, intelligence and political officials claimed to work under the direction of President Museveni.

The ‘fundamental’ human rights being referred to by the Biden regime include the right to teach, export, indoctrinate, sell and practice homosexuality by Americans on people including school children in other countries often against their free will. Looking back at our journey, and US record, while we make both trivial and fundamental mistakes, Uganda doesn’t need the US government as benefactor policeman.  If indeed America’s Independence creed “We hold these truths to be self-evident” and “God created all men equal”, then America’s sub-cultures should not be imposed on Ugandans or any other country as universal and international accepted norms.

This week’s rebuke follows that of November when the US announced that it would halt further entry of Ugandan goods under AGOA into its market. It followed its announcement three months earlier stopping financial assistance except for PEPFAR. And we have not even talked about the many uncalled for negative, often unfounded travel, tourism and business advisories against Uganda including last month against Nyege Nyege music festival in Jinja. Uganda’s stance on many fronts exposing and sometimes confronting imperialism is a bad example and could be reason for attracting the running US irritation.

The writer is Executive Director of Uganda Media Centre

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