Mike Pflanz, Telegraph (London), July 2, 2014
Aid that comes tied with demands for fair treatment of homosexuals is “unreligious” and “sinful”, and Africans do not need handouts if they “stop sleeping and work”, Uganda’s president has said.
Several Western countries reduced funding to Yoweri Museveni’s government in February after he signed into law new legislation imposing life sentences for being gay.
The aid cuts were welcome because they had “aroused” Ugandans and made them realise they needed to “undertake serious work” to build self-reliance, Mr Museveni told a religious conference in the capital, Kampala.
“Uganda does not need aid,” he said. “Uganda is so rich, we should be the ones to give aid. The only thing we need from the world is trade, if they can buy our products. Aid becomes important only when people are asleep.”
The only thing that Africans “do well”, the 69-year-old president said, was “multiply and fill the Earth”, while not working hard to ensure productivity to feed all the continent’s people. That, he said, was what led to reliance on aid.
It was “unreligious” to offer aid with strings attached, including demands to treat homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender people equally with others, he said.
“That is a bad omen, you are committing a sin to offer that aid, or to receive it,” he said.
Mr Museveni has become known for his long speeches justifying his government’s anti-gay laws by claiming that homosexuality is a “lifestyle choice” and Western attempts to impose equality were “social imperialism”.
British aid had already been diverted away from directly funding the Ugandan government, and the GBP83 million that the Department for International Development spends annually in the country goes through approved charities.
The US last month cut aid, imposed visa restrictions and cancelled a military exercise it planned with the Ugandan army, in Barack Obama’s latest sanctions against Mr Museveni over the new laws.
Norway and Denmark had also earlier reduced their funding to Mr Museveni’s government. He has been in power for 28 years and appears unwilling to step down.
“The president is a religious man, he sees aid which comes from religious organisations that then add demands over gay people to be unreligious, and he is right that we don’t need it,” said Tamale Mirundi, a spokesman for Mr Museveni.
“In his speech he made clear that Uganda can be self-reliant, and the aid cuts have woken us up and invigorated us. The president has always opposed aid, from the beginning.”