How things change! Rex Tillerson visited the region and Uganda was once again missing on the program.
There was a time when it was a given that a visit by a senior American official in sub Saharan Africa would automatically include a long stay in Kampala. The most memorable being the Clinton visit in the 1998, this was the first visit to Africa by a sitting American president. Clinton used his historic visit to underline the importance of Kampala in the promotion of American interests in the Region. The baton passed from Mobutu to Museveni.
Following on the heels of Clinton was George Bush’s chief diplomat Secretary of State General Colin Powell who visited in 2001.
Those were hey days when Museveni was indeed the beacon of (American) hope. A pet reference coined by Clinton’s secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Museveni became neoliberalism’s poster boy. He was generously loaded with loans, debt cancellations, aid grants etc. to show that neoliberalism was working. This partly explains the much harped economic recovery that the country is said to have undergone that time, their ‘boy’ was simply too compliant and too pampered to be allowed to fail.
He was allowed free reign to invade neighboring countries like Rwanda, Sudan and Zaire. His position was further reinforced by the September 11th terrorist attacks on the world trade center and the Pentagon. M7 was among the first African Presidents to pledge support to the coalition against terrorism in 2001. He pointed out that Uganda had been battling terrorism for a long time in its war against the ADF and Joseph Kony.
However when the whole world opposed the 2003 American invasion of IRAQ and Mandela referred to Bush as a man who does not think properly, Museveni being the veritable opportunist that he is, he jumped ship and joined these progressive forces opposed to American unilateralism.
Paul Kagame of Rwanda who at the time had very frosty relations with M7 announced that he was all for the invasion. M7, sensing that Kagame may become the new blue eyed boy, jumped ship yet again this time from the progressive’s back to the arms of American imperialism. He was the wavering/uncertain warrior of the war on terror. A not so willing member of the coalition of the willing.
Despite his shaky spine, the Bush administration rewarded him with programs like AGOA and taking part in the construction of Iraq. Programs that were exclusively reserved for agents of American imperialism. Our contribution to the reconstruction was to send many youths to do guard duties on the American military and economic installations.
Surprisingly when Bush planned his 2003 visit to Africa, Uganda was never on the list. Exasperated, Museveni sought the services of all the Washington lobbyists he could remember to plead with the Bush staff to include him on the program. A concession of a few hours stopover in Entebbe was reluctantly granted. The honored host of Clinton had to settle for a wave from Bush. Bush’s successor Barrack Obama completely snubbed Uganda on his two visits to Africa.
Rex Tillerson, the most senior Trump official to visit the continent has skipped Uganda, Rex Met President Uhuru in Nairobi days back. Before Him, Nikki Haley, USA’s Representative to the UN visited the Region and by passed Uganda.
This small as it may seem to some Ugandans is very telling in International diplomacy. It shows the preponderance of power and influence is gravitating to Nairobi and Adis Ababa. Uganda’s waning influence even in Somalia is so apparent. All key consultations about Somalia organized by Americans are held in Nairobi.
The writing is on the wall. The bulwark is now insipid. The salt has lost its saltiness, there is no way to make it salty again. It has become worthless so it has to be thrown out and people will trample on it. The political survivor has no ace left up his sleeve.
The difference between the rising and falling stars is so apparent. UPDF’s battlefield successes were credited to an individual-M7, all the praises went to him and not the institution. On the other hand, all victories registered by the KDF are credited not to Uhuru Kenyatta but the whole institution. The Americans may have come to a belated realization that their interests are best taken care of by an institution rather than an individual.
Museveni without his American god fathers is a faltering light weight that cannot stand for long a sustained onslaught by a determined oppressed mass. If there has ever been an opportune moment to whack Museveni, that time is now.
The Star is fast fading and fast falling. Let the blows rain.
The author is an FDC NEC member,
LC5 woman Councilor Makerere University.