Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Killing Gays a Distraction from Corruption

Corruption is a running background theme for many of the key characters in Uganda's Kill the Gays movement, from Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa to the never ending (scratch that - never starting) trial of Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo. It's also been postulated on several occasions that the Bahati Bill makes a useful distraction from Uganda's real problems.

When you look up Uganda on Transparency International, the first line of their report states:
Corruption in Uganda is widespread and seen as one of the greatest obstacles to the country’s economic development as well as to the provision of quality public services.

Which makes this recent article, a 60-page document released by Human Rights Watch, unsurprising yet no less chilling:

Uganda: 'Letting the Big Fish Swim' - Failures to Prosecute High-Level Corruption in Uganda

The news that US$12.7 million in donor funds had been embezzled from Uganda's Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) hit the headlines in many donor capitals in late 2012, prompting serious questions about Uganda's commitment to fight corruption. The stolen donor funds were earmarked as crucial support for rebuilding northern Uganda, ravaged by a 20-year war, and Karamoja, Uganda's poorest region. Approximately 30 percent of the national budget came from foreign aid in 2012. As a result of the OPM scandal and claims that the money was funneled into private accounts, the European Union, United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, and Norway suspended aid...
Corruption in Uganda is severe, well-known, cuts across many sectors, and is frequently debated and discussed in the media. Such corruption undermines human rights in multiple ways: a direct defiance of the rule of law and accountability, it indicates that the law and its institutions cannot be relied on to protect against violations of fundamental human rights or deliver justice.

The plight of Ugandan politicians to demonise gay people as a distraction from their own criminal activities has been likened to Hitler's persecution of the Jews to take people's minds off Germany's economic problems prior to the Second World War, and is indeed leading to speculation over impending violence on a national scale in Uganda.

Perhaps the reason so many other African countries are quick to follow suit is because corruption is a huge problem throughout the continent.

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