Following external advice blindly devastating Uganda’s image

On December 2 and 3, 2009, Rachel Maddow of television Channel 29 (MSNBC, USA) reported the background to the anti-homosexuality bill currently being debated in Uganda parliament and religious, legislative and executive branch individuals behind the bill. The photographs of four individuals from Uganda on the show were particularly disturbing to say the least. Those wishing to learn more can obtain the report at More information can also be obtained from The Family (2008) by Jeff Sharlet.

Public opinion about Uganda – which has been eroding very rapidly because of the invasion and looting of DRC resources, rampant corruption and economic mismanagement, killing unarmed rioters in the nation’s capital and demonstrations in USA against the president during his visit there in September 2009 – has plummeted following the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC.

Furthermore, reports that Ugandans are not in charge of their destiny in terms of determining who should govern, when they should exit and who sets policy are raising eyebrows. Those who wish to learn more can read Hidden Lives, Hidden Deaths (1988) by Victoria Brittain; Censored 27 (2006) by Peter Phillips; The Legacies of Julius Nyerere (2002) by David A. McDonald and Njeri Sahle; and EIR (Executive Intelligence Review) of September 19, 1997 for a start. You will see who influenced Uganda to switch from the ABC formula (Abstain, Be faithful and Condoms) – which worked very well for HIV preventive programs and put Uganda on the World map as a real success story –to ‘Abstain Only Formula’ that has had adverse impact on the gains made under the ABC formula.

From these reports you will also learn that Uganda has not been in charge of determining economic policy, contrary to popular belief. According to Gerry Helleiner “One senior (and informed) World Bank official has remarked to me privately that despite all the favorable press on Uganda, Tanzania is actually about four years or more ahead of it in terms of truly nationally-owned (and thus sustainable) economic policy for overall development. Tanzania may seem to move more slowly he noted, and I agree, but it does so on a farmer and more stable base” (D. A. McDonald & N. Sahle (2002). Because Uganda is not in charge of its destiny explains why policies that are hurting innocent people have continued to be implemented in spite of obvious adverse human and ecological outcomes. Let us review a few illustrative cases.

Everyone knows that massive export of foodstuffs such as maize, beans, sim sim and fish etc traditionally produced for Uganda consumers has significantly reduced supplies in the domestic markets and raised prices beyond the means of most Ugandans with serious adverse outcomes in terms of stunting children’s physical and mental development, reducing school attendance and performance, enhancing vulnerability to disease and reducing productivity. Yet the government has ignored these outcomes because it has been advised that the operation of the market should not be interfered with and the country needs to accumulate foreign currency. To this end farmers are constantly reminded that they should produce for cash and not for the stomach. World Food Program (WFP) and other exporters are collecting food from all corners of the country for export to neighboring countries and beyond while Ugandans are starving.

From historical evidence, no country in the world has transformed its economy and society from subsistence to modern without a vibrant manufacturing sector. The NRM government is fully aware of this according to the ten-point program and the president’s statements. Yet the government has allowed the importation of cheap products especially used ones that have suffocated Uganda’s ‘infant’ industries because foreign experts have advised so. With respect to the importation of second-hand clothes, President Museveni informed the United Nations General Assembly on September 16, 2005 that “Some external advisers have argued that Uganda is better off by allowing second-hand clothes from outside to suffocate our resurgent textile industry! Incredible but true”. He added that “Where aid is available, it should not be accompanied by excessive meddling by the aid providers”. Sadly, in the case of Uganda they have meddled in a big way and continue to do so at the expense of innocent people.

Many believe NRM government has allowed external advisers and donors to continue to dictate policy because its survival depends on them and not on Ugandans that have been rendered economically and politically voiceless and powerless.