By Faruk Kirunda
I congratulate all Ugandans upon successfully hosting back-to-back major international conferences/meetings/summits in Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and G77-China in this very month of April. As a country, we have got off to a good start in the New Year.
These meetings drawing leaders from across the region and world emphasised Uganda’s relevance and presence on the global map, created visibility for attracting tourists and investors and clarified the image of the country as foreigners came here and witnessed a peaceful country with lots of potential and great hospitality. Anybody saying that these meetings were/are useless has to explain why not hosting them is more beneficial. If they were not useful, the opposition wouldn’t attempt to thwart or disgrace them.
Therefore, thanks to H.E. President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and all those involved in organising the events, including security organs and Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia, whose dazzling convention centre hosted the dignitaries.
While hosting such major events which we may never get a chance to host again in a century, the usual “dust raisers” who do not wish Uganda well- because casting us in bad light builds for them political capital -were not seated. After initiating activities to disrupt and confuse the public when it needed to pay attention to the discussions happening at the summits, but without raising much steam, then came NUP’s Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) haranguing the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Mr. Antonio Guterres, who was among the attendees at the NAM and G77-China summits. Bobi Wine had no kind words for the UN boss, accusing him of failure to address alleged human rights abuses and other things.
First of all, such action is discourteous and undermines the spirit of Ubuntu (humanness) and hospitality which Uganda is known for globally. Visitors remain visitors, more so if they are partners on many fronts. It has to be known that no subject matter was skipped at the summits we are talking about, including human rights issues, good governance, security, trade and so on. It was not tied to Mr Guterres to make a pronouncement on anything for it to become valid or noted, but he did touch on diverse subject matters in his speech.
President Museveni in his inaugural speech as Chairman of G-77-China raised issues of human rights observance and if Guterres is blamed for saying “nothing” about it, then President Museveni should be loaded for raising his voice on behalf of Ugandans and those that have genuinely suffered human rights abuse all over the world.
The NUP leader needs school in statecraft in how things work and the appropriate forum for raising matters of interest. NAM, G-77, IGAD and other forums are highly organised platforms which approach subject matters with clear information and deliverables in mind. Delegates are statesmen and diplomats with experience and wide understanding of issues. They are world leaders who have seen it all and heard it all and they can readily tell fiction from fact, and what to allot time and resources to.
Mr. Guterres runs a system which detects whatever goes on in the world. If he didn’t say anything that interested some parties, it’s because their claims do not hold water and for some time, I have been advising our opposition to be serious if they want to be taken seriously (For this, we are abused and attacked with abandon. Human rights advocates, indeed!).
When NUP was very busy giving deceptive narratives on their supporters allegedly kidnapped, tortured or killed, we tried everything to discourage them from playing about with sensitive matters. The party leadership decided to impress the donor gallery by making false claims on the number of “victims” and even parading victims of accidents like Moses Simbwa who was paraded in Nairobi as a victim of torture and some who have since been discovered to have gone abroad for greener pastures. And Bobi Wine expects the whole UN Chief to invest time and calories in gimmicks! That’s not how the world works.
Uganda’s record on human rights is well known. By the time we were chosen to host these important conferences, there was a healthy level of trust, credibility and confidence in governance systems in place, regardless of the challenges which every country has. NUP failed to convince the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) of their allegations despite all efforts to follow up on cases they listed. No serious person is going to listen to or take anyone seriously who talks ill of one’s own country, moreover to achieve partisan political ends. Politics doesn’t run the world, in the literal sense of things!
On other occasions, the opposition has failed to convince the ICC to indict Ugandan leaders because of fronting petitions heavy on lies. Then last year, the US Government ignored a malicious campaign to deny lifesaving care to HIV/AIDS patients when it approved the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Country Operational Plan (COP) 2023 to ensure that life-saving assistance continues to benefit the people of Uganda.
As Ugandans, we are grateful to partners who understand our situation and are willing to cooperate with us to make things better for everyone. We must commit to building healthy, mutually beneficial and respectful relations with global partners as we position Uganda and East Africa on the world stage. Cheap politics to the gutter!
Lastly, if Bobi Wine is tongue-lashing anyone who doesn’t do or say what he wants to see or hear when he (Bobi Wine) is not in Government, what would happen if he had state power? Food for thought!
Congratulations, Your Excellency Gen. (Rtd) Yoweri Museveni upon taking up the Chairmanship of both NAM and G-77-China- in the former, up to 2027. This is an honour for all Ugandans to celebrate!
The author is the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary; Email: email@example.com or Tel: 0776980486/0783990861
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