Saturday, October 7, 2023

Threats by US government to terminate the entry of Uganda’s goods under African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) currently still mostly low value and negligible over recycled, old and mostly unverified stories of human rights and homosexuality abuses is laced with impudence against which Uganda and indeed Africa need to stand firm. It’s necessary to restate that Africa can develop, expand its investment and trade portfolios to sustained prosperity without AGOA but only if we become methodically serious like China, India and even little Vietnam have done over many decades, and are today at least treated with a measured courtesy. It's hard to understand, except the narrow and skewed US domestic interest, irrespective of sexual orientation, whose interests are served best when the AGAO door is slammed shut, after all homosexuals could be benefiting in AGOA value-chain. The negative travel advisories against upcoming Nyege Nyege festival in Jinja which the US wanted shifted to Kenya equally stinks.

The US cannot pretend to be interested in Sub-Saharan African growth and development when, instead of supporting them to process their raw materials into finished industrial goods it’s imposing on them the dumping of used clothes, shoes and household items that Americans have discarded. The AGOA hubris, reminds of 2015 when China banned the importation of frozen chicken feet [paws] from the US due to the avian flu then ravaging the US. A tit-for tat war ensued with chicken paws ping as uncontrollable rubbish that forced the US to climb down from its ban on car tyre importation from China.

However, in Uganda’s case some of these wounds are self-inflicted because as a country we continue to move as if the world was a charity organization. We must, as starting point stop the hemorrhage of resources through wastefulness, duplication and extortionist corruption especially by senior government officials including politicians. We shall not build and have sufficient resources at our disposal to develop when rumours continue to swirl of senior officials extorting from investors and stifle productivity, yet not handled decisively. Today, investors from China, India and eastern countries are our major sources of our hope that had remained unfulfilled, yet government officials put them to near ransom demanding huge sums in kickbacks or allotment of shares in companies even for services not rendered.  

The United States where thousands especially Blacks are killed almost daily by the police for no other reason than their colour can no longer give unqualified lectures to the world on the respect, protection or promotion of human rights. The US that is currently encouraging the state of Israel to commit what many see as genocide against Palestinians including the random murder of hapless children, women, civilians and the sick in hospitals without any restraint has lost the moral high ground. 


And the US where Donald J. Trump as a sitting president deliberately, defiantly and publicly encouraged violent mobs to dispute and disrupt the certification of a presidential election result because he claims that the process was marred with gross irregularities including voter disfranchisements, ballot stuffing and open cheating cannot pretend that its system enjoys a higher legitimacy in the world. And all these have been followed by two years of slapping egregious criminal charges on Trump for daring to call out a system he says is rotten and doesn’t represent its own people.

Charging Trump for being in possession of the so-called classified documents he had unfettered access to during his four year-tenure as president sounds very stupid and frivolous, but that’s how a system run by scoundrels apparently works. And of course, all this has left the world wondering how Trump, now seen as a deviant, climbed the stairs to the apex of a system hitherto presented to the as the most meticulous, and yet it appears he’s on the verge of repeating the feat.

As a system, the US always resorts to blackmail and violence when all fail as its dealings with Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, or Cuba among others ably demonstrate. But one way as a starting point of dealing with US arrogance and impudence would be for Uganda, Africa and indeed Third World countries to reduce their annual entourages to the US especially UN General Assembly which is more of economic pilgrimage and tourism from which it forks so much income. From the exorbitant visa, residency permit, health insurance, accommodation, living expenses and other fees, the rest of the world are the losers, yet presented as a privilege to travel to the US.

Except personal validation for officials who travel to the UN, there is doubt that people of significance actually notice the brief, often superficial statements by African delegations at the dais the UN assembly dais, when back home few notice their presence. With the increasing spread and access to digital and mobile information technology, a poor-needy country like Uganda doesn’t need to send the huge delegations that often travel, but instead would do better asking its UN Permanent Representative Adonia Ayebare to read the statement during the three-minute slot.