The Right Honorable Prime Minister, as you should appreciate, it’s not usual for an ordinary Ugandan to write to you an open letter. But these are not ordinary times, in light of the arbitrarily manner with which your government is meddling in Uganda’s governance through its withdrawing of budgetary support in a manner reminiscent of the days of the empire.
Certainly I do thank you for the development support you offered Uganda in the last 15 or so years. It changed lives for the better including of the most vulnerable. While your vision of a just world as articulated in your third term is also most commendable.
However, many find dubious the reasons Britain provided for its aid cut. The more surprising in light of Britain’s long inteference in Uganda’s governance, dating back more that 100 years and starting with the colonial experience. And as you should recall, for more than 80 of these years Britain undermined rather than promoted Uganda’s good political governance.
For British colonialism, which we experienced for 60 years, was the exact antithesis of democratic governance. No elections, no accountable structures, no responsiveness or meaningful social programmes. Actually colonialism left us a legacy of underdevelopment and an autocratic culture and institutions. One which we have been attempting to undo, for the most part successfully, in the last 20 years!
Allow me to remind you that Britain was also instrumental in propping up both the Milton Obote (I and II) and Idi Amin regimes. For when Obote abrogated Uganda’s 1962 Lancaster House constitution, the Labour government under Harrold Wilson conveniently adopted a business as usual approach! Later Heath’s regime encouraged, to put it mildly, the Amin coup. Indeed Britain was the first to recognize and internationally legitimized Amin junta.
The pattern was much similar to Obote’s fraudulent return to power in 1980. Indeed Britain trained the murderous Uganda National Liberation Army and most conspicuously never criticized that regime’s attempted genocide. Hence the question, Rt.Hon. Prime Minister, where do you get the moral authority to now lecture us on our democratization process, in light of the above most dismal history?
Britain claims that Uganda does not have the commitment towards maintaining an independent judiciary. Please further substantiate on this serious allegation. We cherish the independence of our judiciary, which for your information is currently and ably arbitrating major disputes in the land.
In sum sir, Ugandans primarily through their own devices re-established the rule of law and we do not need patronizing foreigners to claim to be the guarantors of our freedoms, when in actual essence they were the source of the very governance problems we are grappling with now.
Sir, Britain also thinks that our freedom of the press is under threat! This impression requires correction. For actually, and for your information, Ugandans enjoy more press freedom than the British.
Then there is the claim that Ugandans have no freedom of association. This we find incredulous! Parties are now legally recognised and many recently held unprecedented vibrant and democratic delegates conferences which renewed their leadership.
Concerning the case of Kizza Besigye and the Ituri 22, we could probably seek guidance from Britain’s long history. How do you treat treason suspects? Are they feted? Let off the hook, outside due process, because, for instance, they are noblemen and politically well connected? In our case of the above the accused have been rigorously subjected to an expeditious due process of the law. It is this process that will provide the final verdict.
Ironically the effects of your glaring blunders could be the opposite of what you intended. Many Ugandans now question the donor’s biased meddling and patronizing attitudes. This is consolidating a strong nationalist ideology that questions the wisdom of our exposing ourselves to your arrogance and arbitrary methods of work.