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Ugandan newspaper welcomes looming foreign aid cuts

The editor of Uganda’s largest independent newspaper says most foreign aid is just absorbed by corrupt officials and has only lead to greater corruption and government unaccountability in Uganda
Daniel Kalinaki speaking at Makerere Univerity
Photo: Makerere University

Uganda’s largest independent newspaper has welcomed looming foreign aid cuts to the country over its persecution of LGBT people, arguing that aid has only fuelled corruption and non-accountability in the Ugandan Government.

In a December 6 editorial entitled ‘Here is why the donor aid cuts are the best thing to happen to Uganda,’ Daily Monitor managing editor Daniel Kalinaki wrote that foreign aid rarely reached the people it was intended for in Uganda because it was absorbed by corrupt officials.

‘Money meant to help poor people clear their land, build houses and rebuild their lives after two decades of war was spent on luxury cars, apartment blocks and foreign travels by thieving or undeserving officials.’ Kalinaki wrote.

‘Where the money does trickle past the parched, greedy mouths of politicians and civil servants, a lot of it often goes to pay for useless workshops, buy 4WD cars and pay for fancy mansions and gym memberships for local and expatriate staff.’

Kalinaki wrote that being able to source a quarter of its budget from overseas meant that the Government could ignore the concerns of Ugandans.

‘Foreign aid undermines the emergence of domestic demand for accountability. As long as the government can receive billions each year from London, Washington or Berlin, the local taxpayers can go hang themselves on tomato trees,’ Kalinaki wrote.

‘If Uganda were really a poor country would … our ministers and technocrats drive luxury 4WD cars whose list price is enough to power a small village?

‘Can poor countries afford to pay almost a billion dollars to buy fighter jets that might never fire a shot in anger in a decade? If we were a poor country would [we] have let a handful of officials steal almost $500 million in pensions over the last 10 years? Could a theft of such a grand scale have gone undetected by a country that prides itself on more intelligence outfits than you can count in a day?

Kalinaki wrote that Uganda would never truly be able to say it was independent while it continued to receive foreign aid.

‘How can we claim to have celebrated 50 years of independence this year when 25 out of every 100 shillings we spend in the budget is begged from donors?’ Kalinaki wrote.

The most recent Order Paper for the Ugandan Parliament from Thursday lists the Anti-Homosexuality Bill as ‘business to follow’ and it is feared that it could be voted on as soon as next week.

International pressure has piled onto Uganda since the drafting of the bill which could see homosexuals jailed for life and executed if convicted of multiple offences.

Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu is the latest public figure to speak out against the bill.

A day after the editorial, another Ugandan newspaper, the Red Pepper tabloid, published pictures that it claimed to show that the coach of the country's national football team was having an affair with a player.

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