These past couple of weeks, there has been a lot of activity related with the campaigns for Uganda presidential and parliamentary elections, which are due to take place in 2021.
Among such activity has been delegations of the European Union (EU) overtly paying courtesy visits and holding meetings with major political parties and civil society organisations that are famous for their human rights work.
The optics of these visits are a double edged sword, so to speak. On the one hand, they present an image that the EU is poised to support and to fund the opposition to win the 2021 presidential election against President Museveni.
An endeavour which presumes that the aspiration of the majority of Ugandans is to have another president other than President Museveni. Indeed, in 2016, the US Mission in Kampala did assert: “Ugandans deserve better.”
On the other hand, the visits, may be perceived as the opposition in Uganda are puppets, perhaps easier to manipulate than President Museveni, in order to further the neo-colonial aspirations of the EU and the global-west, in general.
Right from the 1960s, whenever there has been an African leader who propagates strong Pan-African sentiments and values, they were either demonized or gotten rid of. If the leader only nods to foreigners, he is good. Most African leaders nod initially but slowly, they start realizing that they are supposed to serve their country. Suddenly, everybody starts questioning what is up. The once popular leader is turned into a villain.
They expect you to think like them, but get surprised when you tell them: “No, I don’t agree with you.” If you really want to help, why should you disorganize governments? Why should you kick out some leaders for disagreeing with your philosophy and value systems?James Shikwati (Source: “Africa – Africans see Poverty: Foreigners See Resources and Wealth”, Occasional Paper 1, The Inter Region Economic Network (IREN)).
Paradoxically, however, even though, it has been pointed out by some, that the EU and global-western governments, generally, are the ones responsible for propping up President Museveni’s administration, a significant section of Ugandans are gullible enough to believe the narratives of either schools of thought.
So, you will find supporters of the opposition chest-thumbing and presenting themselves as allied with the EU or global-west, in order to kick out President Museveni. While, in contrast, President Museveni and his supporters will ride on the narrative that he is a Pan-Africanists and not a puppet of the global-west.
His paradoxical relationship with the global-west works for President Museveni each time. In 2016 he was quoted by Daily Monitor as having declared: “I don’t like foreigners giving me orders on Uganda. Uganda is ours.” In 2020, he is at it again, expressing similar sentiments.
So, which of the Ugandan politicians does the EU and the global-west, in general, genuinely support and why? The jury is still out.
Featured photo credit: EU envoys visit FDC leaders @ New Vision.