Visa sanctions should address our deficiencies

President Museveni (second left) and his US counterpart Joe Biden (second right) with Ugandan First Daughter Natasha Karugire (left) and US First Lady Jill Biden (right) at the White House last year. PHOTO/ FILE

What you need to know:

  • The sanctions present  an opportunity to make Uganda a better place. One where everyone’s rights are respected

This past week, the US government announced a fresh round of sanctions against Ugandan officials over human rights abuses.

Through the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of the Treasury, the US government administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on US foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United States.

The list of Ugandan government officials being sanctioned has grown over the past few years with the US citing human rights abuses. In addition, the passing of the anti-homosexuality law complicated the relationship between the two governments and could get worse.

The passing of the law sparked off criticism from global leaders, many of whom said Uganda had backtracked on its already fragile human rights record. Many warned that there would be repercussions for the government.

The easy response from many of the officials here is that there is nothing they are looking for in the West and their comfort is being able to move across Uganda.

We all know this may not be necessarily true as most of these will often seek treatment abroad or at least have their children study in prestigious schools across the world.

If the sanctions did not matter then the US would not need to use them at all.

Often, countries that collaborate with the US will also desist from dealing with individuals sanctioned by the world’s biggest superpower of the past five decades.

With the world often referred to as a global village, it becomes hard for many of these officials to transact beyond that roadside market.

Okay, let’s all agree that what the US says doesn’t matter because, in all honesty, it may concern many Ugandans toiling to get through a day at a time.

However, for those who have been sanctioned, it presents an opportunity to make Uganda a better place. One where everyone’s rights are respected.

They ought to desire to live in a country where their health can be catered for and their offspring can find a good education.

If Uganda was desirable for them, they would find little need to buy an apartment in New York and not in Kosovo-Lungujja, a Kampala suburb.

Those who visit Uganda find this one of the most beautiful countries they have lived with the best weather, flora and fauna. These are surely good starting points to transform our surroundings into one that others would admire.