Uganda: A British Love Affair; While the British and Their Allies Have Imposed Sanctions on Zimbabwe, They Continue to Support Uganda Which Has a Worse Democratic and Human Rights Record Than Zimbabwe. (Guest Column)

By Apira, Josephine A. | New African, May 2003 | Go to article overview

Uganda: A British Love Affair; While the British and Their Allies Have Imposed Sanctions on Zimbabwe, They Continue to Support Uganda Which Has a Worse Democratic and Human Rights Record Than Zimbabwe. (Guest Column)


Apira, Josephine A., New African


In May 1997, the London-based campaign Against Militarism (CAM) published a "briefing" on Uganda titled "How Britain is helping to recolonise Africa". Written by Barry Crawford, CAM's then Africa specialist, the "briefing" drew largely on material compiled by me as chair of the NGO, Uganda Concern, that had for years campaigned for democracy in Uganda.

The very last paragraph said it all: "Far from aiding the democratic process in Uganda, British interference is the main obstacle to the Ugandan people realising their aspiration for democracy. For the British government, any form of government will do in Uganda so long as its interests are served. When Britain talks about bringing democracy to Uganda, what it really means is bringing Africa under Western dickat."

In recent months, Zimbabwe has had both economic and "smart" sanctions (ie, travel bans) imposed on it and its leaders by Britain, the EU, America and other Western nations for supposedly "violating the human and democratic rights of its people". As such, even English cricketers have been discouraged from playing in Zimbabwe.

As a displaced Ugandan living in Britain, I find this the height of hypocrisy if you consider Uganda's appalling record on democracy and human rights and the British love affair with the Ugandan government. Instead of sanctions, Uganda continues to receive praises not only from Britain, but Western governments and their media in general. Uganda has variously been described as a "success story" and "a model of African leadership".

The Times of London wrote on 2 January 2003:

"Surrounded by unstable neighbours and still coming to terms with its own brutal past, Uganda is the darling of the donor community and an emerging symbol of hope in a region that has evolved in reputation from a collection of basket countries to a basket continent... Museveni will have a profound international voice as the man who turned an ungovernable mess into a thriving democracy."

A "thriving democracy" in which opposition parties are not allowed to operate! …

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