The hollow charge against foreign forces
- Written by MOSES KHISA
Uganda government spokesman, Ofwono Opondo, is a master at distortion and subterfuge. In his onerous job speaking for a corrupt regime and an inefficient government, Opondo has inoculated himself against honesty.
Now, for many who know him, in private, Opondo is a reasonable and fair-minded person. But standing at the podium to spin for the regime or when engaged in public debate to defend the indefensible, he is at his worst trading in terminological inexactitudes – lying.
The newfound focus for the Museveni regime is to point to the outside world for fault with what is going on as our politics deteriorates, and as the regime is shaken while the ruler becomes more paranoid.
Last week, I wrote about the needless and ineffectual threats at Ugandans in diaspora who are falsely accused of inciting violence back home. The counterpart to this is the tired charge against supposed external forces that fund campaigns for regime change.
“[T]here has been a marked pattern of preplanned and well-executed violence,” Opondo was quoted speaking on Monday, “quite often with active financial and technical support from foreign groups operating in Uganda under the very guise of freedom of expression.”
He pressed on: “In fact, if some elements of this opposition were not emboldened by this external financial, political and technical meddling, they would apply saner means to convince their electorate.”
This is stunning, only that it actually applies more aptly to the government that Opondo speaks for than the opposition he berets. We can paraphrase Opondo and say that if the Ugandan government (and especially the ruler himself) was not emboldened by its external financiers – the IMF and the World Bank, the US and UK, lately China and Iran – it would be more respectful of Ugandans and responsive to their needs and aspirations.
Ugandans may want to know more about who has been the leading servant of external, Western interests not just in Uganda but across the African continent.
Who has been the leading recipient of military aid both in cash and hardware from the USA and technical expert support from the UK? We should also ask who has been fighting America’s wars in Somalia and South Sudan, for what end and for what benefit to Uganda?
On another front, which African ruler became the foremost convert to Western orthodox free market economics or what became more loosely referred to as the Washington Consensus?
And who has been the real driver of Uganda’s economic policymaking over the past decades? Is it the Ugandan people and their representatives or the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank? A good source for a correct answer to this question is former finance minister, Dr Ezra Suruma. He will tell you in no uncertain terms that it was and still remains the latter.
While we are at it, there is the matter of China and its interests in Africa, primarily dangling infrastructure projects to desperate African governments. The recent turn to China by African rulers has taken shape due to two key reasons.
First, China’s aggressive quest to capture raw materials to power its industrial needs. Second, African governments’ need to find alternatives to begging from Western financiers so as to eschew what they characterise as Western lectures about democracy and human rights.
The two factors are remarkably harmonious and complementary: China is free to capture Africa’s economic future by dishing out roads, railways, money and other inducements.
In rushing to grab Chinese loans, which are more expensive than traditional Western loans but having no governance conditionalities, African governments are in turn granting China unfettered access and extraction of Africa’s natural resource wealth, despoiling the continent in perhaps a manner far worse than Western imperialistic incursions.
Guess which African ruler today stands at the forefront of facilitating this new phase of Africa’s economic exploitation. Little attention is paid to the shoddy work by Chinese construction companies and secret deals are concluded whose actual costing turns out to be inflated and the cost of financing very expensive for the long term.
Such shady manoeuvres and shoddy dealings are possible precisely because there is a mutual preference for secrecy and a loathing for transparency by Chinese financiers and contractors on the one hand and corrupt African government officials on the other.
What is more, was it not in Uganda that not too long ago we had controversy over secret oil deals concluded with several foreign oil companies?
Why would any responsible government hide from the people it purportedly represents and on whose behalf it works, deals concluded with foreign companies? If the deals are for the good of Ugandans, why not lay everything on the table to avoid any doubt and suspicion?
At any rate, the posturing about foreign interests that supposedly want to destabilise Uganda is rather hollow.
Many African governments today, not least the Ugandan one, are not any different from the comprador regimes of the 1960s and 70s – they too are beholden to and serve external interests, in fact in a far more blatant fashion.
If Opondo wants to be taken seriously, his government should drop the hypocrisy by ending dependence on external military and financial aid.
The author is an assistant professor of political science at North Carolina State University.
When someone is paid to be stupid, his intelligence ceases to matter.
He has expressed his stupidity in quantifiable proportions and he no longer has anything to lose. I just hope they pay for their lies heavily.
if so do you think he is guided by his mind when he speaks????
At the time, ROKO was constructing BOU headquarters among several projects they were carrying out.
What was this money for if not to assure them a foothold in the construction industry if the rebels came to power.
Is it any wonder therefore that ROKO seem to have an unfair advantage in winning contracts.
And on his part , the president assured the family of continued "support".
This not considering that he went and knelt before Ghaddafi for whatever reasons, apparently to the embarrassment of Moses Ali, Amin Mutyaba and Habib Kagimu who had taken him there.
Just like BW said while he was responding to Ambassador Katende , someone I have known for more than 30 years while he was still an operative at the Uganda mission in Khartoum, there is nothing as terrible as an intelligent person (though I would not particularly call Opondo and Katende thus) is paid to be a fool.
Quote of the month.
In other words Kpk, since a Kleptomaniac (shoplifter) has no conscience (not aware that he/she is stealing), OO is a psychopath (cunning, manipulative and knows the difference between right and wrong, but dismissive if the wrong applies to him).
Therefore OO is never aware that he is actually lying or defending the indefensible.
He is tactfully withdrawing; having sensed the ferry is listed and is sinking soon.
In other words Ejakait, ROKO has been and is, sponsoring and abetting crimes against Ugandans
I guess without them the Uganda shilling would have long collapsed under the weight of regime indiscipline where printing of currency to fund its patronage and corrupt schemes is the order of the day