Irish Government gives more in development aid to
Uganda than to any other country - almost €30.5
million last year, bringing the total over the past
four years to more than €116 million.
very laudable: if you ignore the fact that little
or none of this aid will go towards helping the
ordinary citizens who live there.
is handed directly to the Ugandan government, which,
according to the global corruption watchdog, Transparency
International, is one of the most corrupt regimes
in the world.
donors, including the European Union, accuse it
of gross financial mismanagement and of using aid
funding to supplement military spending. It also
has a long history of human rights abuses. So it
could be argued, with some justification, that gifting
aid to such a regime actually goes against the best
interests of the general population.
public don't hear much about Uganda nowadays, but
there was a time when it was seldom out of the news.
From the time Idi Amin grabbed power in 1971 until
eight years and close on 500,000 deaths later, when
he took flight to Libya, everything that happened
there was reported in great detail.
the beginning, it was with an air of post-colonial
superiority and amusement that we looked upon the
over-sized, but affable, African buffoon who delighted
in playing to his newly-acquired international audience.
as Amin's true colours began to emerge with the
forced expulsion of Uganda's 80,000 Indian and Pakistani
residents, we were bewildered at the apparent change
in attitude of our "harmless" jester.
Eventually, when the full extent of Amin's depravities
became clear, nobody was laughing anymore.
enough, in the absence of being told anything to
the contrary, most people have assumed that, post-Amin,
the country has been reasonably stable. They couldn't
be more wrong.
this day, Uganda continues to suffer terribly from
government repression and brutality, electoral fraud
and voter intimidation, violent upheaval, poverty,
and rampant corruption at every administrative level.
Amin, the man whom he had originally deposed, Milton
Obote, returned to power.
second term in office proved to be every bit as
bloody as the Amin era, with another 500,000 civilians
losing their lives before he was deposed again in
the present Ugandan president, Lieut Gen Yoweri
Kaguta Museveni, seized power in January 1986, the
sad story of Uganda has continued to be one of murder,
rape, pillage and state-sponsored violence (directed
against political opponents and ordinary citizens
alike) on a horrendous scale.
the past 19 years, a civil war has raged in the
north of the country that has led to 100,000 people
losing their lives, the kidnapping of 20,000 children
and 1.6 million people having to flee their homes.
forces are as culpable for this litany of death
and violent intimidation as are any of the other
rebels, armed gangs, militias and hostile ethnic
groups that make up the motley collection of warring
1999 the Ugandan government invaded the neighbouring
Democratic Republic of Congo and, though its troops
officially withdrew in 2002, it has continued to
foment strife there by covertly delivering large
consignments of weapons to insurgents based in DRC.
the 1999 invasion, up to five million people have
died in the Congo because of war or its direct consequences
- half of these were children under the age of five.
has become clear that international aid has been
misappropriated to fund both the civil war in northern
Uganda and military interventions in DRC.
Irish Government is as aware of these facts as anyone
else. Neither can it plead ignorance regarding the
extent of corruption within the Ugandan administration.
array of organisations and individual donors have
all recently called for international aid to Uganda
to be either stopped immediately; substantially
reduced; or made dependent on large-scale political
and social reform.
include: the World Bank, the International Monetary
Fund, the EU, the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis
and Malaria, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development and the Norwegian, Dutch and British
exception, each cited levels of government corruption
in Uganda, not least on the part of President Museveni
and his immediate family, as one of the determining
factors in their decision.
one is suggesting that the Government is deliberately
propping up tyrannical, corrupt regimes like Museveni's
or, heaven forbid, that the international community
should stop lending assistance to those in need.
while the lazy practice of delivering aid directly
from government-to-government continues, corruption
and misappropriation will remain, and those for
whom the aid is intended will receive little or
problem is easily solved: cut out middle-men like
Museveni and his cohorts and deliver straight to
with permission from the author.