Friday August 3 2012

The US will not fix our problems

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was expected in Kampala last night, flying in from South Sudan. The two-day visit, part of a six-nation Africa tour, will be Ms Clinton’s second trip to Uganda in 14 years.

In March 1998, she was a First Lady accompanying her husband and former US President Bill Clinton, who on July 20 was here ostensibly to appraise works of his health and educational charities.

It was the Clintons who feted President Museveni as a ‘new breed’ African leader. The acclaim offered Mr Museveni a political mileage and high approval as a reformist, breathing new life in his rule.

Once this newspaper on July 29 broke news of the Secretary’s visit, opposition politicians began clamouring for an opportunity to confer with her. Some senior party officials telephoned to enquire if our journalists could, through contacts at the US Mission in Kampala, help them to meet Ms Clinton.

The frantic pleadings are as gripping as they are saddening. It evinces the fragility of the opposition leaders. Majority of our readers in an informal survey said they want Ms Clinton to press her host, President Museveni, to restore presidential term limits; not offer himself to seek re-election in 2016 and halt state brutality toward democratic agitators.

At a press conference on Wednesday, UPC party vice president, Joseph Bbosa, noted that “major” political parties aimed to talk “human rights and proper governance” issues with Ms Clinton. And this is the political malady: The mentality of our leaders that owing to its economic benefaction and military might, the West is a panacea for all our internal problems. Yet such is a fallacy.

Like President Obama pointed out in his July 11, 2009 landmark speech in Ghana, America’s partnership with Africa-- and by extension Uganda-- must be grounded in “mutual responsibility and mutual respect”.

He said: “We must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans.”
The plain truth in Obama’s text is that the US, or any western power, can and should not substitute to shoulder the burdens of Africa’s transformation. We must walk the talk to achieve the desired future. Therefore, the remedies to our millstones, like their causes, must primarily be home-grown, so that any outside help only complements.