MWENDA: Why we should be suspicious of America’s attempts to insert itself in our national politics
THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Why did the United States sanction Uganda’s former Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura, on allegations of violation of human rights, corruption and smuggling without providing the evidence for the allegations? Why after he has left office and two years after its own Department of Justice awarded him a medal for excellence in fighting terrorism? Why is the indictment coming one and a half years to the beginning of the 2021 presidential election campaigns?
As I wrote in this column last week, the Uganda Human Rights Commission and the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights both visited Nalufenya (the alleged place of torture in the American indictment) and interacted with the prisoners. Both concluded that the claims of torture were not founded. Why did the U.S. Department of State disregard the findings of Uganda’s institutions? Given that the UHRC has issued many reports detailing torture in Uganda and even made government to pay hefty compensations to torture victims, the USA should have more confidence in our institutions.
More critically, why does America seek to enforce norms that it does not practice at home, even though it claims they are its own values? The American police are notorious for killing innocent African American males. Indeed every 28 hours a black man is shot dead by police in America for no reason but the colour of their skin. Doesn’t charity begin at home? Why does America seek to enforce international laws it has refused to be subject to under international treaties like the Rome Statute that created the ICC?
Last week I dealt with the substance of these claims: first that Kayihura was a very honest public servant who did not use his official position to enrich himself. Second that while security forces routinely torture, Kayihura made efforts to put checks in place. Third, that America has been complicit in torture. This column and the article following it on pages 16-17 seek to address America’s motivations.
The sanctions against Kayihura are not actually aimed at him. Americans want to influence the 2021 elections. They sense fatigue about President Yoweri Museveni and a wave in favour of Kyadondo East legislator, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, whom they have adopted as their Trojan horse. He is a catholic and a Muganda. Americans know Ugandans, like most Americans, vote largely based on identity: ethnic and religion. Bobi Wine may add a significant share of demographic votes because he is young, fresh and a celebrity. He has a good intuitive feeling of the frustrations of many ordinary young Ugandans.
Of course we must ask why Americans would support a novice like Bobi Wine against Museveni. Our president has been their kingpin in this region. He has promoted free market policies of liberalisation and privatisation that have stifled the growth of and/or displaced local capital to the advantage of multinational capital. He has been central in promoting America’s security interests in this region and fighting her enemies (for many years the government in Khartoum and over the last decade the “terrorists” in Somalia).