Why does the West detest Mugabe but dine with Museveni?

via The Observer – Why does the West detest Mugabe but dine with Museveni?  BY PATIENCE AKUMU  

Much of the world looked on with dismay as Zimbabwe held another disputed presidential election this month, handing 89-year-old Robert Mugabe a seventh term in office.

Newspapers sent their correspondents to report allegations of ballot fraud and intimidation. Television reports around the world featured the angry face of Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe’s main opponent, as he denounced the election as a farce.

In Uganda, liberals and politicians rolled their eyes and sighed wearily. Uganda has its own Mugabe figure, but no one seems to care. For the last decade, Ugandan activists have been trying to draw attention to Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s brutal excesses, but the world won’t listen.

In May, Museveni shut down independent media in Uganda, after they published a controversial memo written by Gen David Sejusa. The general has since fled to the UK, fearing to be “arrested like a cockroach”.

Now, a law has been passed, in effect, giving police powers to proscribe open public debate. Under the Public Order Management Bill, more than two people are not allowed to meet in a public place to talk politics – unless they have secured police permission.  But the truth is that public debate was stifled long before the act. Parliament is also considering a law that will give the government power to shut down critical media.

So where is the international outrage when it comes to Uganda? In 2009, the world successfully put pressure on Uganda to drop the Anti-homosexuality Bill that proposed the death penalty for certain homosexual acts. Why, as the voices of protest and democracy are silenced, do the leaders of the western world continue to wine and dine with Museveni?

Why do they continue to hand over generous donations to Museveni’s government that the people never see, turning a blind eye to issues of human rights and democracy?

Britain’s Department for International Development budget for Uganda is £60m (Shs 222 billion). Most of this money is supposedly intended for projects concerning democracy, health and human rights. Even with all that is happening in Uganda, the country is still masquerading as an African democracy.

Of course it is not all bad.

Millions of Ugandans still live on less than a dollar a day; Uganda has halved poverty that was at 56 per cent in the early 1990s. The country’s economy is said to be growing and literacy rates stand at 73 per cent with more people attaining secondary school education.

But look at this tale of rigged elections, opponents in exile, mysterious disappearances and killings, torture, clampdown on the media – it is the Mugabe script but with a different cast. Inexorably consolidating his power, Museveni has built himself a mansion and stocked up on military jets.

There is no sign he will step aside and he has promised he will be the one to usher the country into becoming a “middle income” state. This is a feat he has been having a go at for the last 27 years. The reality is that Ugandans have been beaten into docility by hunger, disease, poverty and sheer need.

The unprecedented rise in the cost of living and the deplorable state of hospitals have put the people in the exact position that Museveni and his cronies want them to be – a place where many are too worried about their next meal to care about abstract political ideas and rights.

Ugandans cannot help but question the integrity of countries that continue to accommodate one dictator, while condemning the other. Tyrants who have squeezed life out of the country now coo about the new African revolution. And the world nods, cheers and promises Africa that things will improve. They will not. Not until the root of all this evil is totally uprooted.

Diplomacy may be the game, but what if it comes at too high a cost – more deaths, more disease and an eventual economic collapse? The argument often goes that Zimbabwe is an extreme case and Uganda still manages to function from day to day. Critics say this is nothing more than “western hypocrisy,” a necessary evasion of responsibility because Museveni is still the West’s “yes boy,” in various international bodies.

The message is loud and clear to all dictators: you can arrest the opposition every other day, pass draconian laws and let your country wallow in poverty, as long as your troops are available for us when we need to go on a peace keeping mission in, say, Somalia.

As long as you vote on our side when we sit on the [UN] Human Rights Council and sign as many human rights treaties as is required. Democracy? No, you do not have to be democratic. It is enough for you to appear democratic.

Patience Akumu, a journalist with The Observer, won the 2013 David Astor journalism awards. A longer version of this article was published by the UK’s Sunday Observer.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 24
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    jamesrupiya 7 years ago

    great!

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    Chingwa 7 years ago

    From the little I have seen in Uganda Zimbabwe functions much better right now when it is even only a third of the economy it had in 1999. Zimbabwe had infrastructure and that doesnt go away just because a country has had a bad patch. Uganda has always been like it is with little infrastructure, low literacy rates, and poor governance. So to say ”The argument often goes that Zimbabwe is an extreme case and Uganda still manages to function from day to day.” is a fallacy. Zimbabweans still functions much better than Uganda even in a serious recession. Many in East Africa have been told their economies are way ahead of Zimbabwe and believe Zimbabwe to be dead in the water. Please invite this journalist to Zimbabwe so that she can see that even with a dictator who has wrecked the economy Zimbabwe fares much better than Uganda

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      Shane 7 years ago

      That’s because the remenats of the white infrastructure are still functioning in zimbabwe.

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      Andrew 7 years ago

      If Zimbabwe was functioning more better than Uganda even with its acute problems, then it would not have a slowed economic growth, a mass exodus of most of its young population into neighbouring South Africa and food shortages. At least Uganda has enough food to feed its population, economic growth is growing fairly and the literacy rate has improved.

      Please alawys get your facts straight before airing your views.

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    aluta continua 7 years ago

    Mugabe shouldn’t feel jealously about it all, and lead Zimbabwe into yet another proxy war against Museveni in Zaire.

    The last war led Zimbabwe into sanctions. Pliz forget Museveni your hands are already full.

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    Let us learn how to solve our problems. The West cant solve every African problem. They are not helping Zimbabweans to vote freely. Mugabe chased them and they did nothing. Tswangirai is just unable to do the right thing. He blunders every time. As long as Zimbabweans believe that he is capable of doing something they will remain under Mugabe. So Ugandans must find their own solution too.

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    Mugabe has his demons like everyone else but the good thing he has proved to the world is that he is doesn’t lick white man’s ass, instead he kicks it very hard. Once you do that then your are a marked man. Gone are the days we use to do that. We are all equal.

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      Mikko Chiko 7 years ago

      What did you benefit through that as a nation?
      Chinese are doing worse bro they attack uniformed forces.Asi chii nhai ?

    • comment-avatar
      Shane 7 years ago

      Why do so many of you worry about the white man when it is the black man who has done all the looting, breaking and murdering over the last 33 years?

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    jongwe power 7 years ago

    Why the West detests Mugabe? Because he doesn’t hesitate to give them the finger every time he goes public. Of course they will dine with Museveni because he plays along just enough to get what he needs from them (in exchange for resources, of course).

    Secondly, because the Chinese benefit greatly from being middlemen.

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    Tsvangison 7 years ago

    Mugabe crossed the line. He hit were it hurts most. He touched the iris of the west’s eye. How dare he take ‘their’ land? And now he is threatening their mines and businesses, Oh! as well as poisoning young Malema’s mind. He must NEVER succeed! The Africans must never think that it works. Zimbabwe shall be made an example of, and if not, as long as its Robert, then tough luck, the sanctions remain. Maybe if they had put Mujuru then itwould not be sooo embassing to admit that our regime change agenda has failed.

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    Alluta continua! We will fight on untl we remove tyranny in Zimbabwe. Ungandans, just like Zimbabweans should have a common standing and fight these two regimes. Oh, Ugandans have a POMB just like our infamous POSA, too bad.

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    Museveni knows what he wants.and he knows how to play hs cards.for Mugabe being arrogant to white or kicking them out,at the end of the day who’s suffering ?its we zimbabwean people.violence doesn’t build anything,even when you are married ,and the marriage doesn’t seem to be working out you need to look at the dilemmas between two of you ,because you can’t stay in a house with a wife or husband who doesn’t show respect always using poor language.what lesson do you teach the children at home none!!!!!!!the thing about Mugabe he thinks he’s still a teenager some of his language doesn’t seem to be encouraging even to young generation,even when you are in a funeral always talk about gay and lesbians,why can’t he give time to respect the family who lost their beloved ones than bringing all that sickening really.

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    MikeH 7 years ago

    What has Uganda got that Zimbabwe hasn’t ? …. OIL perhaps.

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    chris black 7 years ago

    Easy answer uganda still lets the west manipulate its resources that zimbabwe has put a stop to…take a billion out in resources and reward the nation with 100million in so called aid..

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    Phunyukabemphethe 7 years ago

    Look here, of all the African leaders, Gukurahundi Mugabe is the only one who never misses an opportunity to attack the west. He attracts western attention on him, hence the sanctions. Look at Dos Santos of Angola, he is not rally a democratic but because he is quiet, nobody really cares about him. The trouble is that Mugabe thinks he is clever than all other African leaders, and he got spoiled when people admired his academic achievements hence his arrogance. He is so self centred and self concieted that he probably thinks he is the best thing ever to happen to Africa. In the process, he has made the who country suffer!

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    Tatenda Tatenda 7 years ago

    The thing is: Mugabe is always on the offensive even when the West are quiet. There is need to keep quiet sometimes and let the waters settle down!

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    William 7 years ago

    Well articulated article. The problem with the international community and the West in particular is that their interests come first and anything else is secondary. Even Mugabe used to be their darling at one point in spite of his atrocious human rights record. Imagine the stance of the US in Egypt today where they are reluctant to call Morsi’s ouster a coup d’état. Africans are their own liberators and not anyone else as they cannot be trusted

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    David 7 years ago

    The new Chinese Colonists in Zimbabwe have more rights in Zimbabwe the Zimbabweans. They treat us like dogs and ZANU (pf) government sanctions it.

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      Phunyukabemphethe 7 years ago

      @David
      The Chinese have been given more rights than Zimbabweans and allowed to keep their 100% shareholding not out of any principle but simply to spite the West. So black Zims are suffering because of Gukurahundi Mugabe’s ego – to be known to be the only one who can challenge the west!!

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    Phunyukabemphethe 7 years ago

    Challenging the west is a waste of precious time and national resources. Engaging in a war you will never ever win is foolishness of the highest order.

    What can little Zim do to the west, especially when the second biggest world economy China is engaging the west? Even Russia engages the west – so who are you little landlocked Gukurahundi Zimbabwe?

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      chris black 7 years ago

      China owns the west financially..the usa used to manufacture 90% of its clothing in the 1970s here..now its just 5%..western nations for a fact have to manipulate as many countries resources today and gather as much of the old colonial $$$ or there will be chaos in the European streets except germany. .

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        Phunyukabemphethe 7 years ago

        @Chris Black
        Moving your manufacturing facilities to more competitive and convenient environments does not amount to OWNING a country – its part of the modern global village we all now live in. In fact you are proving my point in that whilst China is engaging the West, little Zim pretends it can go without the West – very stupid and foolish, if you ask me.

        The daily cries about sanctions are evidence enough they cannot do without the west. Since he came to office as British Prime Minister I have never heard David Cameron saying anything about Gukurahundi Mugabe since – and yet the 90 year ancient Gukurahundi is daily crying tears and shouting about the UK. The UK HAS NO TIME FOR 90 YEAR OLD CRYBABIES!!

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    Guvnor 7 years ago

    The problem with Robert the blind mouse is that he tries too hard to prove a point he does not have. It is not an edifying spectacle for Zimbabweans to behold. When one is blind to reality and out of touch with Zimbabwean citizens whats the use of barking at those nations which can very comfortably afford to ignore the barking.