The other city in Africa that merited having an embassy in line with the spirit of Pan-Africanism is Accra in Ghana. As is well known, Ghana represents modern Pan- Africanism because of its association with Kwame Nkrumah; the founding father of Pan-Africanism on the African continent. The spirit of Nkurumism and pan-Africanism still exists in Ghana. In fact, preparations are currently underway to hold a global pan-African congress in Ghana in March this year and subsequently to have the secretarial of the global pan-African movement secretariat shifted to Accra for the next few years.
But what do we see. Instead of appointing a High Commissioner to Accra, the only envoy in the whole of West Africa has been posted to Abuja in Nigeria to cater for the whole region. This shows Pan-Africanism did not inform these appointments and yet that is what the Kampala administration professes.
When it comes to the Asian continent, there was no envoy sent to North Korea the only surviving socialist and Third World regime in the eastern hemisphere. I have also heard the NRM ideologues talking about Uganda using the Asian Tigers model of economic development. And I imagine we have a lot of lessons to learn from the development path and model of countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Thailand. However, there is no envoy that has been designated to go to these development model countries.
When it comes to the Middle East and North Africa there is no envoy who has been sent to Libya, the NRM’s historical ally. True, the current regime – or is it regimes- in Libya may not be progressive but still we should have sent an envoy to Tripoli if for nothing but in the spirit of solidarity with the masses of the people of Libya with whom the NRM leaders have been in the trenches together for promoting pan-Africanism and African liberation.
President Museveni, the appointing authority may argue that due to limited resources we cannot have embassies in all or most capitals of the world. That is a valid argument. However, in the consideration of priorities and informed by ideological considerations, we should not have missed at least having an embassy in one of these ideologically progressive countries such as Cuba, Bolivia, or Ecuador. These are the countries we should identify with if NRM still believes in the solidarity of the likeminded regimes which are the advocates of the 21st century global justice movement. These are the countries that have come up with an alternative development paradigm—`Buen Vivir’ loosely translated as collective well being that challenges the orthodox neo-liberal and western-centred paradigms. These are countries advocating solidarity economies which challenge corporate imperialism and corporate-led globalisation.
Why should Uganda have seven embassies in Europe, six in the Middle East, and none in the whole of South America? And yet it is this continent where the leadership of the global justice movement is found. This is the continent leading in the global justice movement and providing political leadership to confront urgent problems of the world such as ultra-nationalism and xenophobia emerging in Europe and now in Trumps’ America. It is these countries where we find leadership that confronts global warming.
I stand to be corrected but it seems domestic political calculations for political support, more than ideological clarity, informed appointment of the new envoys. We are now living in the age of soft power and not hard power diplomacy. There is need for our diplomats to be anchored in a clear ideological direction so that, for example, if there is need to negotiate or take a vote in a global forum; our representatives take such a decision informed by a clear ideology.
Mwambutysa Ndebesa is a lecturer Makerere University