Uganda embezzlement should lead to scrapping the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Looking for a miracle

By Melanie Nathan, Feb 16, 2013.

stopthebill3Uganda has not lost one shilling yet to the threatened passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill – but it has lost a great deal of financial support because of scandals, corruption and embezzlement and for the latter no one can blame the gays.  Some have threatened to cut AID to Uganda if the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, otherwise known as The Kill the Gay Bill passes, despite urging by Ugandan LGBTI activists that the West should not cut such AID. But what is out of the hands of the gays is the corruption and misappropriation of funds that Uganda has received and the current scandals that have caused funders to retract.

Nothing like a bit of scandal to expose the real ills facing Uganda, and so the embezzlement of close to $13million which was  meant for reconstruction has caused mayhem. Uganda has relied heavily for years on donor funding which may be completely tapped out because of this scandal.  Now Uganda is preparing for other ways to raise funds, which includes reaching out to bankers in the Arab world for borrowing and to local or domestic borrowing so that it can maintain its budget for the next year.

If anything Ugandan politicians have tried to hide behind some of the ills by creating an international side track through scapegoating of gays and lesbians by its push for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.   Now that the Bill is at third place of the Parliamentary agenda, this past week and could be tabled again higher on Tuesday, perhaps nothing short of a miracle can stop its passage.  Perhaps Speaker Rebecca Kadaga should  take it off the agenda and ensure it is scrapped completely. She can save face and use the scandal as an excuse, noting that it is clear that now Uganda is in no position to risk any loss of any kind, be it AID, investment or funding, to an economy that has shown 30% inflation in this past year.

Ugandans who are pro the AHB, Kill the Gays Bill, will resound – that they cannot be bought out of their cultural beliefs, morals etc – but maybe they simply no longer have a choice – because when the Bill passes you can bet your bottom dollar many businesses will withdraw investment, funding and support based on principle as well as an inability to operate in a country that criminalizes its employees and the risk to all who can be sent to jail for 3 years if they fail to report a gay employee within 24 hours of finding out that the person is gay or lesbian.

 According to Ugandan press, Finance Minister, Maria Kiwanuk, as a preparedness measure, will increase the domestic borrowing by 0.7 per cent of the GDP after 5 crucial donors withdrew their support by withholding $282million.  Again I note, this has nothing to do with Kill the Gays Bill.  Yet what is clear is that Uganda cannot afford to antagonize the global trade and business community, as further losses could be devastating to the country.

Lest we forget that the Ugandan government has very many absconded millions that it must pay back -5 million to Ireland, 23 million to Norway, NOK 23 million (UGX 11 billion). Seems to me Uganda can ill afford risking its ranking with the Anti- homosexuality Bill.

What a great irony if the embezzlement scandal ends up saving  LGBTI Ugandans from the horrific Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

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