Once it became about Museveni, Western tactics became irrelevant 14

Elizabeth Ann Palchik has what I think is an excellent article commenting on how Barack Obama’s public fist-clenching was counter-productive because it forced Museveni into a corner, and into signing the anti-gay bill just to illustrate that he wasn’t going to be pushed around by America.

But then check out Lynne Featherstone (Minister at the Department for International Development in the United Kingdom) lamenting that taking a subtle approach didn’t work. 

Curiously perhaps, I agree with both Palchik and Featherstone.

How so?

The Bill, hatched in 2009, was kept in limbo for 3 years, despite clear Parliamentary backing, by Yoweri Museveni who made no pretense about why he didn’t want any part of it; it was a foreign policy matter that only he dealt with. In effect, he told his own National Resistance Movement (NRM) members of Parliament in early 2010 that he wouldn’t sign the bill because he needed donor money to fight the 2011 election and they retreated into their shells because they knew how important he was to their own political survival in a country where for the president to endorse you usually means you are a shoo-in for election or re-election and his displeasure with you is a sure kiss of death. Museveni collected the money he needed from the donors, $3bn according to some unofficial estimates, paid off the electorate and got re-elected in 2011.

John Baird's Quebec outburst revived the Bill and helped get it signed into law

John Baird’s Quebec outburst changed the political landscape in Uganda and helped get the bill signed

Come October 2012, the Canadian foreign minister revived the comatose bill when he publicly lambasted Rebecca Kadaga in Quebec about it. Sensing an opening for her 2016 presidential ambitions, Kadaga gleefully turned to the phalanx of cameras and gave as good as she got. The bill would be decided by Uganda which was not a colony or protectorate of Canada. She returned to Uganda to a rapturous welcome from the anti-gay lobby which had all but given up on finding their way past Museveni’s intransigence that the bill must not be even debated.

John Baird’s interference had, unwittingly, changed the political tone of Uganda’s politics and now the anti-gay side had a seemingly viable champion who could challenge Museveni in 2016. Rebecca Kadaga promised to deliver the bill for Christmas 2012 and set about campaigning for the presidency even as she also openly feuded with Amama Mbabazi, another contender for the 2016 presidency. Museveni managed to stall the passing of the bill that Christmas but he was hanging on by his political fingernails.

In 2013, the internecine political wranglings in the top echelons of the NRM escalated. Kadaga’s international stature grew with all the awards and posts she was racking up, and  she spent more time in Uganda’s regions and on the world stage than in Parliament – literally campaigning for the presidency even though she thinly disguised it as doing her job as Speaker of the House. We now know that Museveni’s Prime Minister was, with the help of his wife, also actively making his own presidential campaign preparations, albeit more surreptitiously than the Speaker of the House.

Slowly being humiliated by Museveni: Prime Minister Mbabazi

Slowly being humiliated by Museveni: Prime Minister Mbabazi

With the same secrecy that Mbabazi was using to set up his campaign stall, Parliament plotted to bring the anti-gay bill to the floor and Kadaga, all along conniving with a number of Parliamentarians on tactics, let them pass it shortly before Christmas 2013. Museveni and Mbabazi were both caught off guard, and Mbabazi could barely hide his chagrin at what he must have seen as his ambitions being pulled from under him by his political enemy, Rebecca Kadaga. He complained feebly in Parliament that the bill was being passed without the necessary votes needed but was totally ignored.

Usually composed and self-assured, the vote for the bill threw Museveni for a loop, forcing him to write an angry, personal attack against Rebecca Kadaga in which he inferred that she, too, was as “abnormal” as the homosexuals since she was childless and unmarried. He wouldn’t sign the bill.

But it was clear the ground was slipping from under His Excellency when the whispering became a cascade that if he didn’t sign the bill he would be abandoned by his party.

There was nothing for it but for Museveni to swing into action. He would now seek scientists’ views about homosexuality and make his mind up thereafter. In the meantime, he let it be known to his close supporters that he knew of his Prime Minister’s plotting and he allowed them to collect signatures at the ruling National Resistance Movement’s annual retreat in Kyankwanzi -all pledging allegiance to another 28 years of Museveni. That partly took care of Rebecca Kadaga who wasn’t even at the meeting to try to mount a rearguard action.

But what price had the NRM acolytes who signed allegiance to Museveni extracted? All was revealed when the scientists’ report was presented and Museveni claimed that it told him that being gay was a choice. Of course it told him no such thing but he was already prepared to spin it his way to keep his presidential hopes with his own party alive. He would now sign the bill.

By the time Barack Obama intervened publicly (I agree totally that he should have been more aware of the political dynamics on the ground and saved his breath), the die was cast. Museveni had, like Macbeth, waded in too deep, “stepped in so far that should [he] wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er.”

Likely after some frantic phone calls from Washington, Museveni made a last gasp nod to Obama that he would ask for a second opinion from international scientists. But all that was just confused, desperate, flim-flam as he looked for a way to appease Washington while also keeping his political base in line. There was none and Museveni signed the bill February 24th without waiting for the extra scientists’ report he had announced only days before.

The gloves were off once the bill became about Yoweri Museveni's political survival

The West became irrelevant once the bill was about Yoweri Museveni’s political survival

Signing the bill finally erased the only electoral advantage Kadaga had mastered within the NRM and Museveni could now go after his other adversary, Amama Mbabazi. Thanks to a phone tapping bill that Prime Minister Mbabazi had supported in Parliament, Museveni had voice transcripts of conversations that confirmed that his own Prime Minister was secretly plotting to be president.Within days, he made public the recorded conversations in which Mbabazi’s people were heard to be canvassing for support, confirming pay-offs and denigrating Museveni as old, tired and out of touch.

As yours truly writes this, Mbabazi is in retreat, denying this and refusing to comment on that. He is best advised to come out boldly so that if he fails in his presidential bid, he at least goes out with honor. But that’s not how Uganda’s politics works so poor Mbabazi is going to keep on denying, even as he is openly stripped of power and influence, to be replaced by the very people he was using to plan his own presidential bid.

See why both Palchik and Featherstone are right?

Once it was apparent to Museveni, in 2012, that his office was under serious threat from within his own party, what the West did or didn’t do wasn’t going to work. The anti-gay bill happened to be the vehicle Rebecca Kadaga (who is personally not anti-gay at all) was riding so Museveni had to derail her by agreeing to sign it.

The bill became tangential, thanks to John Baird, in October 2012, because Baird helped change the discourse from being about homosexuality to one of Museveni’s political survival. In that sense you can argue that Baird’s intervention was counterproductive since it gave Rebecca Kadaga the opening she was looking for to look and sound presidential on an issue that she knew the entire country could rally behind – Uganda’s national pride. Even yours truly supported her response to Baird.

Last month, Obama should have known the futility of opening his mouth against the bill, and should have kept his powder dry as Britain’s Cameron did. Palchik is right on this. But, the subtle approach Featherstone is now frowning upon shouldn’t have been bothered with either once it became clear that the anti-gay bill was no longer about the gays in Uganda but about Museveni’s political survival.

The West should have shut up shop and gone home in November 2012 when Kadaga showed she was intent on using the bill as her Trojan Horse to the presidency and it was clear she had the political traction if Museveni remained obdurate about not passing it.

Their interjections, whether loud or subtle, were never going to make any difference as Museveni was going to do whatever it took to stay in power till he died – yes, up to and including signing a bill he didn’t like, had admitted was foolish and unworkable, and on which he had incontrovertible evidence from his own scientists telling him that homosexuality was NOT different to heterosexuality.

It is to give the West too much credit to argue that, after October 2012, there was anything they could have done to stave off the signing of this Nazi bill.

Ugandan Scientists: “Homosexuality is not an abnormality” 4

“Sexuality is determined by biology (anatomy, physiology, biochemistry) and how one relates to others which is a function of psychology …Ultimately these functions are determined by genes and their interaction with the environment. What, therefore, constitutes normal sexual behavior in any given society (learned sexual practices) is a function of one’s biology, psychology and culture, the last three being dynamic and often changing. … Homosexual behavior has existed throughout human history including in Africa …Many Western-based evangelistic missionaries and Arabs penetrated Africa and influenced her people with their views on homosexuality. This continues today … Indeed there are undeclared homosexuals in Africa who many not even know it because their cultures never give room for the expression of such behavior. …”

The above are excerpts from the scientists’ report that the Ugandan press, National Resistance Movement politicians and their president are claiming lends support to the anti-gay bill.

It does absolutely no such thing!!!

In fact, it is 12 pages of completely supportive scientific finding to the homosexuality cause!

Someone, anyone, needs to read it and tell the world where His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni and his followers got it from this report that gays are “abnormal” and deserve to be jailed for life for being so, thus the Anti-Gay Bill must be signed.

Yours truly has failed to find it.

I know we live in an age of lazy or non-readers but please take time to read these 12 pages. It debunks the myths Ugandans have been fed for years about the issue of homosexuality.

Now, find here, the government-owned New Vision’s [deliberate?] misrepresentation of what the scientists said.

What on earth is going on in this country?

“Sign the Bill Campaign” gets under way in Uganda 1

Have you had sex in the last seven days? Want to know whether you caught HIV in that encounter?

Look no further. Uganda has the testing kit and expertise to tell you whether that sex romp you had seven days ago gave you HIV or not!

Also, catch up on the case of the alleged attempt to incinerate Rebecca Kadaga with a letter bomb. The story received hardly any publicity at first but it has now grown and taken on a life of its own, finally making it to the front pages of the Government-owned New Vision one week after the “terrorist attack” aimed at the Speaker of the House nearly claimed one of her aides.

The claim, finally confirmed by Speaker Kadaga herself, is that a letter bomb intended for her was opened by her assistant who was badly injured, needing hospitalization. Why would the New Vision be so late to print such a sensational story? They, too, like everyone else were caught flat-footed by the story and for almost a week didn’t know what to do with it.

Now, who might want to extinguish Uganda’s first female Speaker of House, yours truly wondered. A Member of Parliament from the ruling National Resistance Movement, James Kakooza, quickly put the question to rest:

“I think these are the advocates of homosexuality”

If you are not aware of it, read up on the case of Stephen Dhont and his Kenyan friend who were arrested by Uganda’s police for ‘watching porn,’ paraded in front of the media in their underclothes and then forced to undergo anal homo-sodomy tests, all without any legal warrant. Usually thoughtful and circumspect, NTV Uganda allowed their reporter to indulge in the most reckless, childish, silly, irresponsible reporting you can imagine when he went on air to claim that the two men were caught in flagrante delicto, having gay sex. NTV Uganda added to the sensationalism by showing the men in their underclothes, which only served to accentuate their reporters’ spurious claims.

It was all a pile of garbage which earned NTV Uganda the Rottie Award for poorest reporting in January from yours truly.

A couple of days later, the Daily Monitor waded in with their own ‘scoop’ showing that Uganda now has the technology to prove that the sex you had seven days ago gave you HIV.

What’s the specific window period for different types of HIV tests?

Antibody tests (“Rapid” tests) — give a positive result based on antibodies to HIV, not the virus itself.

  • 2-8 weeks (up to 2 months) after infection, most people will have enough antibodies to test positive

  • 12 weeks (3 months) after infection, about 97% of people will have enough antibodies to test positive[San Francisco Aids Association]

In the Monitor’s report, four children tested HIV positive seven days after they were sodomized. The report, conveniently perhaps, fails to mention the gender of the children. Might they have been girls who were sodomized by men, you find yourself wondering. It, however, makes the point about why the anti-gay bill awaiting the president’s signature is unnecessary:

… under Section 129 in the Penal Code (Amendment) Act of 2007 which states: “Any person who performs a sexual act with another person who is below the age of eighteen years in any of the circumstances specified in subsection (4) commits a felony called aggravated defilement and is, on conviction by the High Court, liable to suffer death.”

There is already a law on Uganda’s statutes against child defilement, be it perpetrated by heterosexuals or homosexuals!

Really?! Why the hysteria then?

The side trying to push Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, to sign the anti-gay bill has swung into action. Call it the “Sign the Bill Campaign,” to borrow from a friend on another forum.

The Sign the Bill  campaigners are thus trying to smear the pro-gay lobby by claiming homosexual activists tried to assassinate Rebecca Kadaga. The NTV Uganda reporter (though not necessarily NTV itself, which was likely guilty only of unacceptably poor editorial supervision) lined himself behind the same campaign when he told outright lies about Stephen Dhont, his Kenyan friend and the circumstances in which they were arrested.

And now we are seeing  the Monitor’s Andrew Bagala (again not necessarily the Monitor newspaper which is likely guilty only of lazy editing) jump on the bandwagon with patently incorrect scientific reporting at best and, at worst, a carefully calculated incendiary meant to get the entire country to rise in insurrection against the gays.

While the waters are still too murky to determine whether all this amounts to a carefully orchestrated campaign, the tactics we have seen in the past two weeks are base, crass, vile, but very effective in a country like Uganda where more than 70% of the population struggle to think for themselves … even if they had the educated sophistication to do so, which they don’t.

Dr. Chris Baryomunsi; loose cannon on a rolling deck 3

Check out this informative article by Peter Mulira that appeared in the Monitor Newspaper, one of Uganda’s most widely papers. In it he summarizes the science and anthropological studies that show definitively that homosexuality is not a mental disorder or Western import to Africa.

As an orientation, homosexuality refers to an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual affection or romantic attraction primarily or exclusively with a member of the same sex. It also refers to an individual’s sense of personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviours expressing them and membership in a community of others who share them. [Peter Mulira writing in the Monitor, January 28, 2014]

Uses Parliamentary immunity to propagate nonsense: Dr. Chris Baryomunsi

Uses his Parliamentary position to peddle nonsense on the airwaves: Dr. Chris Baryomunsi

None of this is terribly new to anyone who has done their homework. What’s notable is the deafening silence to the article from people like Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, a Ugandan medical doctor turned politician who is at the forefront of propagating hogwash that he, however, pretends is scientific fact. You often hear Dr. Baryomunsi on programs such as Capital Gang (91.3FM), he has penned half-baked scientific responses in the  The Red Pepper and goodness knows where else.

So, Dr. Baryomunsi is a medical practitioner cum politician who is also a peripatetic radio/television personality touting himself as an authority on homosexuality despite having no qualification whatsoever in the subject. What makes him perhaps one of the most dangerous men in Uganda is that he is a medical doctor in a country where to have studied medicine rates you second only to Jesus in ability to walk on water.

Take this quotation attributed to Baryomunsi in the Red Pepper:

The MP who is also a medical doctor tells Museveni not to compare homosexuality with other abnormalities like albinism, epilepsy and barrenness saying that homosexuality is not hormonal and added that it wouldn’t be only in the western world if it was hormonal or an abnormality.

It is breathtaking gobbledygook but irresponsible, too, coming from a medical personnel who is pretending to know what he is talking about even though he is not a psychiatrist or sociologist. Homosexuality is only in the Western world? How does this man of medicine figure that when Israel legalized consensual homosexual acts years ago? Oh, South Africa, too, is in the Western world now, is it? How about the acres of anthropological studies that show that homosexuality was accepted and tolerated in Africa until the colonialists, wielding their Bibles, brainwashed the natives against it?

A former seminarian, it would nonetheless be a mistake to assume that Chris Baryomunsi has never been taught to research his facts before making scientific claims. After all that is what the practice of medicine is about; double-checking before drawing conclusions. But he is arrogant which is why he would go against the findings of an international psychiatric panel which ruled that homosexuality was not a mental disorder when Baryomunsi was four years old.

Sexual orientation is, therefore, not a choice.” In another work Professor Michael King writing in the Church Times of November 16, 2007 under the title “How much is known about the origins of homosexuality” said “The conclusion reached by scientist who have investigated the origins of sexual orientation is that it is a human characteristic that is formed in early life and is resistant to change. Scientific evidence on the origins of homosexuality is considered relevant to theological and social debate because it undermines suggestions that sexual orientation is a choice.”

You thus have to wonder what kind of medicine Dr. Baryomunsi read that makes him peddle myths that were debunked more than 30 years ago by medical professionals who wrote the books to everything he knows about medicine.

“I will use treatments for the benefit of the ill in accordance with my ability and my judgment, but from what is to their harm and injustice I will keep them” (The Hippocratic Oath]

It is not the first time that Dr. Baryomunsi has decided to exercise his medical profession like a bull in a China store. When a fellow MP, Cerinah Nebanda, died in mysterious circumstances in late 2012, Baryomunsi suddenly remembered that he was a medical doctor and not merely a politician. He rushed to Mulago Hospital, helped open up Nebanda’s body in a bid to gather samples to be transported to South Africa for toxicological tests. He, and Speaker of the House Rebecca Kadaga, were the flag bearers to the movement that insisted that Nebanda couldn’t have died of a drugs overdose because she was a demure teetotaler who lived a life of purity. Legal proceedings in the wake of Nebanda’s death gradually revealed that Nebanda consorted with all sorts, regularly ingested illegal substances, and must have periodically attended Parliament when she was as high as a kite.

So, Dr. Baryomunsi is a loose cannon on a rolling deck who is prone to speaking about subjects he knows nothing about. Sadly for Uganda, his Parliamentary position accords him an audience which listens to him in rapt enthrallment because medical doctors are assumed to know what they are talking about. Never mind that Ugandan doctors today kill more patients due to medical negligence and malpractice than some of his constituents will ever have hot dinners;  Dr. Baryomunsi, honorable Member of Parliament for Kinkizi East, has his platform and, by golly, he is going to open his mouth and let whatever comes out come out.

After all, isn’t that what the Hippocratic oath is about?

Your serve Miss Kadaga 5

The gloves are off: Yoweri Museveni

The gloves are off: Yoweri Museveni publicly lambasted the Speaker of the House, implying that she is foolish and thoughtless

If there was any doubt at all in anyone’s mind that the anti-gay bill being hit from one corner of the political court to the other has anything to do with homosexuals, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni has dispelled it once and for all.

With ferocious ground strokes and grunts reminiscent of Monica Seles in her tennis heyday, Yoweri Museveni has rejected the bill and haughtily walked back to his seat with barely concealed disdain for one of its primary movers, Speaker of the House  Rebecca Kadaga.

Of course Rebecca Kadaga neither initiated this bill nor passed it on her own, and Museveni knows this. That’s why it is remarkable that almost three-quarters of his response to the bill sent to his desk for signature is aimed directly or indirectly at her.

“Some elements, however, insisted and even without quorum of Parliament, passed it,” … “How can you pass law without the quorum of Parliament after it has been pointed out? What sort of Parliament is this? How can Parliament be the one to break the Constitution and the Law repeatedly?” [Museveni]

In a snide broadside, Museveni asks rhetorical questions whose significance simple minds might miss but which will not have escaped Miss Kadaga:

“…what do we do with an abnormal person? Do we kill him/her? Do we imprison him/her? Or we do contain him/her?”

In the Ugandan context Museveni is using it, homosexuals are abnormal in the sense that they don’t conform to the ‘normal’ sexuality. But so are menopausal spinsters in their fifties, such as Rebecca Kadaga, who haven’t given birth to biological children of their own. Ugandans even have derogatory songs for such women so one needs to look beyond the Western interpretation of “abnormal” to understand what Museveni is really saying.

"Abnormal" spinster, Rebecca Kadaga (picture from NTV Uganda)

“Abnormal” spinster, Rebecca Kadaga (picture from NTV Uganda)

In a nutshell, Museveni is telling Kadaga that she, too, is an “abnormal” woman but that doesn’t mean she should be imprisoned or killed.

Spectacular smash!

With tongue in cheek, Museveni then blames Kadaga for the homosexuality she and the Members of Parliament who signed the bill claim they want to get rid of among the young:

By delaying government projects needed to create jobs for the unemployed youth, the President said the MPs are exposing the unemployed youth or “impecunious students” to the risks of homosexuality and other temptations.

I think that’s what they call a lob.

So, what is driving Museveni’s change of tactics with Kadaga?

Uganda’s president plans on continuing in office come 2016. He has seen how, since 2012, Kadaga has openly campaigned for the same office. Her slogan “Country First” is aimed directly at what she sees as Museveni’s tired, corrupt, rudderless administration and she now spends more time on the hustings than she does in Parliament. She is not hiding her presidential ambitions, popping up at a funeral here, shedding tears in a moribund hospital ER there, winning international leadership positions today, lambasting Canadian ministers tomorrow … and so on and so forth. By sheer will and determination, Rebecca Kadaga has become the most visible and quotable politician after Museveni.

Museveni doesn’t like it one bit.

So, he, too, is now using the anti-gay bill to try to put this Johnny-come-lately of a Speaker down. He is no longer pretending to stay above the mudslinging fray, else he wouldn’t have dismissively referred to Kadaga as “some elements …” or gone as far as questioning her intellect, if not reasoning, by wondering why she doesn’t understand that “Even with legislation, they will simply go underground and continue practicing homosexuality or lesbianism for mercenary reasons.”

Ace!

Museveni understands homosexuality better than most Ugandans which is why he has in the past publicly chided the people he leads for not understanding that homosexuals have always been with us. He doesn’t of course believe that homosexuals are driven purely by money but the Exocet missile he sent Kadaga had barely anything to do with what he believes in on this subject.

I must admit that I failed to read how Museveni would respond when I speculated on his options regarding this bill. I just didn’t see that he would take the battle directly to Rebecca Kadaga in a vicious, blistering attack on her person, integrity and intelligence.

Nonetheless, the ball is back in Rebecca Kadaga’s court.

Ball is in. Miss Kadaga has two challenges remaining. Quiet please ladies and gentlemen, Miss Kadaga is ready to serve!

Related articles

  1. Uganda’s man of 2013 is … Bebe Cool!
  2. Over to you Mr. President

The Bahati Anti Homosexuality Bill: The Stage Is Set 4

We are finally approaching the denouement to the saga that the Bahati Anti Homosexuality Bill (AHB) has been since 2009. The players are lined up and we must finally see the end to this drama.

The Major Players around Uganda's AHB

The Major Players around Uganda’s AHB

Here is an attempt to summarize what is at stake:

President Yoweri Museveni:

In 2010, following pressure from Hillary Clinton and other Western diplomats, Museveni put his authority on the line and ordered his

Doesn't want the bill: Yoweri Museveni

Doesn’t want the bill: Yoweri Museveni

National Resistance Movement (NRM) members of Parliament (MPs) to drop the bill because it was a matter of ‘foreign policy‘ that was not theirs to resolve. The MPs resentfully capitulated and the bill failed to get out of committee. It lay comatose for nearly three years until Canada’s John Baird resuscitated it with his withering attack on Rebecca Kadaga last October. Museveni must be  irritated that he has to deal with this bill again, especially with the attendant implications for his authority and foreign policy (read foreign Aid) if it is debated and passed.

Museveni has no interest in the AHB, doesn’t want it debated at all, but will now work more quietly to kill it because he can’t employ the public, paternalistic, tactics he used in 2010.

The Parliament of Uganda:

Uganda’s Parliament is overwhelmingly NRM. This 9th Parliament has proved to be more prone to straining at the leash against the executive,  because it has more young(er) MPs who are impatient to assert their authority as Parliamentarians. The problem for them is that too many NRM MPs are still beholden to the president for their seats (a lot of voters really vote NRM because of Museveni, rather than the MP) so they haven’t got enough guts to stand their ground when the president clips them behind the ear, passes them a few sweeteners or threatens them with political annihilation should they not fall into line.  You sense that more of them are increasingly ready to try and use the AHB to give Museveni a bloody nose and so you will see them attempt to debate and pass it.

Rebecca Kadaga

Her authority on the line: Rebecca Kadaga

Her authority on the line: Rebecca Kadaga

Kadaga nailed her colors to the AHB in an ill-advised attempt to bolster her presidential ambitions. At a stroke, she compromised her office which is supposed to be neutral and she also put herself directly in the cross-hairs of President Museveni who cannot have taken too kindly to her thinly veiled shot across the bows at his administration.

He stared her down when she led her Parliamentary troops up the hill because of the death in unclear circumstances of a young Parliamentarian, Selina Nebanda. Museveni insisted that there was no need to recall Parliament over that controversy and, despite her earlier blustering that Parliament would be recalled, Kadaga led her troops back down.

Already wounded by the skirmish with Yoweri Museveni over Selina Nebanda’s death, Kadaga’s authority will be damaged irreparably if the AHB  never makes it to the floor of Parliament. She will thus do whatever she can to at least have the bill debated on the floor. She must be looking for every avenue to save herself further political humiliation, having promised and failed to deliver the AHB as a 2012 Christmas present.

The Evangelical/right  vs the Liberal/Left foreign legion:

It is true that the bill was conceived with the support of American evangelicals such as Scott Lively. But they hadn’t reckoned with the

Private Courts Inc justifies their actions which led to the closure of Victoria University

Private Courts Inc justifies their actions which put 200 Ugandan students and their lecturers out on the streets

fierce backlash from Liberal/Left leaning organizations who took up the mantle and have, since the AHB was introduced in 2009, done whatever they can to guide the message as well as the tactics against their right-wing foes in America and the government authorities in Uganda.

To these two enemies, the AHB is but a mere Trojan Horse for their left/right  ideological battle for hearts and minds. Uganda is but one of the battlefields on which they will fight to the death. Others are Cameroon, Liberia, Nigeria, Ghana and so on. The American evangelicals started the battle in Uganda but have since lost ground due to their domestic flock getting cold feet at the idea that they could be responsible for the judicial killing of citizens in foreign places. They also don’t have the stomach to withstand the ferocity of the liberals’ response especially given that the American political climate has clearly turned against right-wing extremism as shown by Barack Obama’s resounding trouncing of the Republicans in successive elections.

The East African has an example of the left’s unrepentantly agenda-driven, personal, ruthless, egotistic, condescending, colonial, take-no-prisoners attitude that they bring to the internecine ideological battle. In that instance, one individual from a company calling itself Private Courts Inc.  pressured Victoria University to close, without bothering to consult the LGBTI community in Uganda, thereby putting the future of 200 students and their lecturers s in jeopardy, and creating the wrong impression that the LGBTI community in Uganda didn’t care what happened to anyone else as long as their agenda was put on a pedestal.

In fact the LGBTI in Uganda, some of whom have friends at the university, found out who the prime mover had been when The East African’s article was published, weeks after the fact. The Private Courts Inc. personnel who wrote the haranguing e-mail to Victoria University last visited Uganda in 2011 but she doesn’t hesitate to lecture anyone and everyone she doesn’t agree with as though she is the Alpha and Omega of the poor, helpless, downtrodden black gay boys and girls in Uganda that she must save from a fireball of hate and bigotry. She clings to a patronizing and racist attitude she would never use had she been dealing with any African-American community in the United States. But, hey, she is a self-appointed white savior from San Francisco who knows better than all the backward black African people in a “tiny country” so her superiority makes her best suited to decide what is good for them.

It is clearly not only the evangelicals using the AHB for their own egoistic reasons.

Uganda’s LGBTI Community:

Just a pawn in the ideological war: David Bahati

Just a pawn in the ideological war: David Bahati

Last, and least, is the LGBTI community in Uganda. Even though they are the people who will bear the brunt of the effects of the AHB, events  have evolved over the last 4 years in such a way as to make the gay community but a parenthesis in the various power and ideological battles the bill has spawned.

The fact that the West is funding all the LGBTI activities in Uganda makes the people on the ground but mere marionettes. Yes, that means that Martin Ssempa and David Bahati are as much a tool of the American evangelicals as the Ugandan LGBTI community are of the left/liberal camps in the West.

It is a noble fight that the LGBTI activists are fighting in Uganda but it is also, sadly, true that very little of what is going on in Uganda’ corridors of power, in San Francisco’s Private Courts Inc.  or at Scott Lively’s Abiding Truth Ministries is driven by the realities of the gay population on the ground who are but mere pawns in much bigger, and sometimes tangential,  political games.

The activists must, of course, keep lobbying Parliament (I think the message and tone need to be adjusted but that is another discussion) and keep engaging with anyone they can on the AHB. The alternative would be to give up; infinitely worse given how much they have already put into the fight.

When all is said and done, the Anti Homosexuality Bill’s fate can only be decided once and for all if A) President Museveni finds a way of getting it thrown out of Parliament for good, B) Uganda’s Parliament comes to its senses and rejects it out on their own volition or  C) it is debated and passed and it goes to court for a final, legal, ruling on its constitutionality.

If Parliament stands its ground, Yoweri Museveni’s options are limited. In that happenstance, the solution to this protracted battle will be for Parliament to pass the bill, and the courts take it up, thereby finally taking the opportunistic politics out of play.

 

UPDATE/CORRECTION: After I posted this, it has been brought to my attention that the Private Courts person, Melanie Nathan, who wrote the e-mail to Victoria University has actually never been to Uganda.

Health/Wellness needs to drive the human rights campaign 7

Frank McMullan has posted a fierce riposte to my article decrying what I see as gross exaggerations regarding the homosexuality debate in Uganda.

I  feel it might be beneficial to move the discussion forward by explaining further (or again?) why I am frustrated with the nature of the debate being conducted around Uganda’s gay situation.

My general thrust is simple: human rights are critical and those who fight for them need our support and thanks. What seems to me to be happening in Uganda is that the foreign friends of our gay community have decided that they are going to fight this battle on their own terms. Some of their condescending tactics include treating us (Ugandan gay men and women) as though we are helpless, hapless basket cases who cannot come up with any strategies and so all the strategies must be determined by them  in New York City or talking shops in Quebec. How else can you explain the attack by Canada’s foreign minister against Speaker of the House, Rebecca Kadaga, last October, an attack that caught gays in Uganda totally by surprise?

So, when we tell the activists abroad that we feel things should be done differently, they simply brush our opinions away and go with their own decisions.

To be fair, our representatives in Uganda haven’t been terribly forthcoming in seeking out the views of the grassroots [Farug has taken some steps to change in this regard over the past 12 months]. Yet the overwhelming sentiments on the ground are that the struggle is about what three or four people in Uganda plus their handlers in London, Washington, DC and Europe decide.

No wonder that many of us look on with awe as activists, some of them carrying fictitious members lists,  fly all over the world, return to Uganda only long enough to throw yet another expensive boozy junket and then fly out again to … yet more talking shops on yet another continent.

How do these activists know what message to take to all these places if, as is certainly the case, they hardly ever consult with the grassroots? we wonder. To that end, some of the activists in Uganda have been compromised by the endless foreign trips whose purpose to us remains at best nebulous. But our boys and girls are so poor and desperate that these trips seem like manna from heaven. They are thus a source of a lot of envy and jealousy in our community and, dare one say it, they make the gallivanting activists so powerful as nothing funded by foreign donors (everything is funded by foreign donors)  is approved or done without their nod.

The foreign liberal and right-wing media corp who report on Uganda usually have an agenda that often has nothing to do with the poor gay boy in Kawaala, a Kampala suburb. Yet, as we all know, the truth is usually far less interesting than we would wish. When they air what is usually arrant hyperbole (often endorsed by people on the ground who also have their own personal reasons for embellishing their circumstances), the Americans, Swedes and Brits etc. get all excited … but the heterosexual Ugandans who have nothing against us also get irritated at what they see as lies, lies, lies.

We might be getting a lot of sympathy from people watching exaggerated reports in the comfort of their living rooms in London, Lisbon and Los Angeles. But we are also needlessly making enemies of our fellow Ugandans, the people we walk the streets with, because the stuff being peddled out there, often with the tacit blessing of those who lead us, is manifestly incorrect.

I have, for instance, railed against the nonsense Scott Mills’ documentary (May 2011) peddled. He spent perhaps two weeks in Uganda and called it the worst place to be gay in the world – to deafening silence from our leadership. Really? Worse than Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates?  Worse than the parts of Northern Nigeria practicing Shariah law? Worse than North Dakota or parts of rural Georgia? Seriously?

I think our representatives, too, cannot really deviate from the message their sponsors want to hear because … it would be to bite the hand that feeds them. He who pays the piper calls the tune and the piper wants sensational stories from Uganda because that is what generates dollars and Euros. There is,however,  only a number of stories even a “terrible” country like Uganda can produce so … the alternative is to either embellish or look on as outright fabrications are peddled by whoever has an agenda to pursue.

So, contrary to what a commentator on my previous post patronizingly suggested when she offered that  James Onen (the radio personality) can’t understand what is going on in Russia., Onen is right: this battle long ceased to be about the truth.

If it were about the truth and what the gay boys and girls in Uganda really want, the focus would be on forcing the government of Uganda to make HIV/Aids in the gay community a priority since the fact that we are already dying from diseases due to official neglect is as verifiable as it is indisputable. And what would be a better way to push the government to concede that gays in Uganda must be protected than to give them equal access to medical attention as well as specialized HIV care?

This is not happening because the focus in the West is on a bill that hasn’t been debated, hasn’t killed anyone yet, likely will not change the situation on the ground since, once passed, the law will be impossible  to enforce.  But it should really be on sick homosexual Ugandans who can’t trust the clinics available to them to keep their confidences,  provide them with simple things such as lubricant or treat their sexually transmitted diseases without turning up their noses at them.

Any Ugandan gay man or woman will readily tell you about gay people they know of who have succumbed to HIV/Aids due to neglect and/or stigma which prevented them from seeking medical attention in time. I have blogged about a friend of mine, Raymond Kiwanuka, who was taken in that fashion. He wasn’t the first, and he certainly hasn’t been the last. Raymond suffered without support long before Bahati introduced his [Nazi] bill.

What I am arguing is that the HIV/Aids crisis in the gay community needs to be used as the vehicle to fight against discrimination and the Bahati Bill. Why? Because thus far, the ‘human rights’ “we are here, we are queer” message has remained nebulous, and its intentions unclear. So, it needs to be dressed up in clothes that both gay and straight Ugandans can identify with – the human element of health/wellness which is tangible to most Ugandans.

My friends, most of whom know I am gay and don’t care, often ask what I think are justifiable questions: what rights do Ugandan gays want? To march in the streets? To have parades in public parks? To hold seminars in hotels? To have sex in public? To discuss gay sex on radio and television? To take over mainstream bars and hang by the rafters? To have sex in private, something they are already doing? What?

Unless we put a human element to what we want, and I am totally convinced HIV/Aids/Health-Wellness is the perfect vehicle for this message, my friends can justifiably assume that we think we are more special than the millions of Ugandan women and children who have died over the years due to pregnancy and childbirth complications, but who don’t have friends in Stockholm or New York City, and have thus never had an advocate such as Hillary Clinton making threatening phone calls on their behalf  to President Yoweri Museveni.

With that in mind, it might make for exciting water cooler discussions in America and Europe to claim that there is a violent anti-gay movement in Uganda. The evidence on the ground proves otherwise and that sort of exaggeration merely alienates our fellow Ugandans.

It’s time , I think, to retool our message to embrace the really pressing health/wellness issues affecting the gay Ugandans in the slums of Bwayise and Najjanankumbi. It might not be as jazzy, sexy, catchy or lucrative as the “we are here, we are queer” message, but I would bet cold, hard cash that is what the grassroots want.

2012 gone – bring on 2013 9

2012 is behind us so it is time to think about what to expect in 2013. On occasions like this, it’s best to let one’s mind wander and not try to be terribly structured.

2012 is a year Uganda’s Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, will not look back on with unbridled pleasure. When she rose to the post of Speaker in 2011, Kadaga mounted and rode a wave of public disgruntlement against Yoweri Museveni’s tired, uncaring, thieving, bungling administration, and impressed even die-hard skeptics, such as yours truly, with her crusading zeal to put “country first.” Openly warring with Museveni’s Squealer-like puppet, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, Kadaga emboldened the ruling NRM caucus in Parliament and hitherto docile parliamentarians started asking pointed questions about their own government’s wanton corruption, fecklessness,  lack of new ideas and drift.

Kadaga was repelled by Mbabazi

Rebecca Kadaga was repelled by Amama Mbabazi

Alas, Kadaga then came a-cropper when she was lured into consorting with convicted felons over the Bahati [Nazi]Anti-Gay Bill. She promised the bill to Martin Ssempa who had just been convicted of fabricating sodomy evidence against a rival pastor – for Christmas – and then failed to deliver it. Thanks to events running away from Kadaga, time run out on the Bahati [Nazi) Bill in 2012, not least because the President, who we all know is against the bill, chose to use up an entire afternoon the bill could have been debated to indulge in ... gossip. Kadaga thus lost her last opportunity in 2012 to deliver her [Nazi] Christmas gift to Martin Ssempa and with it went her credibility where political maneuvering is concerned.

Museveni: took up precious Parliamentary time in December to "gossip"

Museveni: took up precious Parliamentary time in December to “gossip”

Kadaga got a political bloody nose in 2012, which the death of her octogenarian father did not help. She will come back again in 2013, and you can expect her to continue making noises about this and that. She has, however, already showed that she is prone to moving her political chess pieces without a lot of thought and will, going forward, struggle to maintain her moral high ground given her failure to deliver on what should have been an easy bill to pass in 2012. She of course, should be advised to steer her office clear of political controversy as well as be more discreet about her political ambitions, but only time will tell whether she is willing to play a more subtle form of politics.

Frank Mugisha & Kasha Nabagesera

The faces of gay Uganda: Frank Mugisha & Kasha Nabagesera

2012 has been a spectacularly successful year for Ugandan gay rights activists, thanks largely to events that have been driven by others. To the activists’ direct credit, 2012 saw Uganda’s first ever gay pride march in Entebbe which was eventually broken up by the police. Yours truly doesn’t believe in such things as pride marches because they go against his sensibilities. But it is not lost on him that parades serve a useful ‘public awareness’ purpose especially when activism is faced with boorish, foolish, intemperate, obtuse and tactless foes such as Uganda’s current Minister of Ethics and Integrity, defrocked Catholic priest Simon Lokodo.

Lokodo should really have known to leave activists well alone when they met in hotels and public gardens because, of course, they were doing no harm even if they didn’t have the right to assemble which they did. But, no, he kept on charging in there, likely tipped off by someone inside the gay camp on at least one occasion,  like a bull in a China store which of course played right into the gay advocates’ hands. Still, even after conferences were disrupted and a couple of gay-themed plays were stymied, one got the feeling that the gay debate in Uganda had stalled, that the public weren’t interested in it. The activists’ tactics on the ground weren’t really producing the kind of impact they wanted.

A lot of Ugandans on Facebook clearly need an education

A lot of Ugandans on Facebook clearly need an education

All that changed of course when John Baird confronted Rebecca Kadaga in Quebec in late October. The furor that incident unleashed reverberated around the world, thanks to Kadaga’s intemperate, impolitic and, dare one say it, totally over-the-top response when she returned home.

So, due to foreign intervention, the last three months of 2012 have generated some of the most heated debates around homosexuality Uganda has ever witnessed – on local radio, in the papers, and most especially on social media in cyberspace. Baird’s harangue thus proved to be a godsend to the limping gay cause in Uganda in ways he likely didn’t expect.

Ruled for gay rights: Justice Stella Arach Amoko

Ruled for gay rights: Justice Stella Arach Amoko

Where to next? The Bahati bill remains in Parliament and will be passed by Parliament if it is debated regardless of what local activists and our friends abroad do. So, the way forward is to find a way for the bill not to be debated on the floor of Parliament or to prepare for a constitutional challenge if it is passed.

My own feeling is that the bill should be debated and passed so that it can be challenged in the courts. This would serve to take it out of the political arena and, hopefully, draw a line under the [mostly cynical] jockeying by both friends and detractors which has helped shape public debate, yes, but which has also left the core issues unresolved.

A lot of well-schooled Ugandans remain astonishingly illiterate on the homosexuality issue and so need an education. Raising the debate to a more intellectual, highbrow, legal, level will give a lot of our brothers and sisters who have gone to school but remain ignorant a different, less hysterical and/or hackneyed perspective.

The other reason this issue needs to go to court is precedent;  the gay side in Uganda has never lost a legal ruling in the three or four times gay activists have taken our enemies to court in the recent past. With such great odds, I would bet my last cent that the Bahati Bill would be ruled unconstitutional in less time than it takes to say “bigoted.” But first it has to be passed for the courts to consider any challenges.

Is it risque parades we are after?

Is  flaunting it at parades what we are after?

The activists on the ground should also continue to expect questions about what exactly they want to achieve. I have asked the questions and continue to hear them being asked by others in more muted tones.

Are they looking for acceptance in Uganda? If so, what form should it take? Is it about gay marriage? Every sinew in my body tells me it shouldn’t be and I haven’t heard any Ugandan activist argue that marriage is what it’s about so we can dismiss that line of thought. Or can we?

Is it about gay men and women being allowed to love each other freely (in private) in Uganda? What about those, like yours truly, who feel we are already doing that in the broad context of the inhibited sexual sensibilities in Uganda?

Is it about putting it out there, on the airwaves, in public parks, in bars and on the streets as one sees in San Fransisco’s Castro District? If so, how do we hope to cut and paste that model into a country like Uganda where heterosexuals frown upon flaunting their own relationships?

Or is it about attaining equal access to social services such as HIV/Aids treatment  and other health and wellness programs which heterosexuals already take for granted?

Is it about lifting the confidence of gay men and women all over the country to believe in themselves enough to pool together to set up gay venues (bars, clubs etc) that they call their own?

In other words, with and without help from our friends abroad, for whom and for what are we making all this noise in the press, in conferences around the world, in dramatic stage productions, on podiums accepting accolades, in television debates with a lunatic Martin Ssempa?

If the struggle is not really about those who front it, because most struggles are usually larger than those who front them, do those we assume to be representing really know what it is we are trying to do for them, and have they bought into the agenda we espouse? How have we ensured that they are on board with what we are trying to achieve?

If we were to take a poll of gay Ugandans today, how confident are we that they would all be able to say in one sentence what gay activism in Uganda is about?

What will the matrix of success following all this gay activism in Uganda be? What will need to happen  (and to whom) in order for us to say that the gay struggle in Uganda has succeeded?

When I speak to gay men and women from all walks of life in Uganda, I get the impression that those are the broad questions whose answers they still want clearly articulated.

The communication chasm between leaders and led still needs to be bridged.

Still.

Mike Mukula delivers a clanger! 7

2016 Presidential Aspirant, Mike Mukula, is a very interesting man.

Accused of having pilfered Global Alliance for Vaccines (GAVI) funds while he was state minister for health, Mike Mukula wrote a check for 240m/= ($100,000) as recompense. This, despite having initially denied anything to do with the theft of GAVI funds. So, it should perhaps be assumed that, even if he was innocent, Mukula was struck by a bolt of kindness and he decided to write GAVI a $100,000 check. Believe me, you won’t find many Ugandans who are that generous, and especially not ones who have held high office as Mukula has done.

Forever dapper: Mike Mukula

Forever dapper: Mike Mukula

It must thus be with the same magnanimity that Mukula decided to wade into the homosexuality debate. Check him out here telling the youth to shun homosexual activity because it constitutes an adoption of a foreign culture.

Odd as it might sound, I agree with Mukula. I, a Ugandan gay man of so many years (well, I have never really been anything else), also don’t want Ugandan youth to take up homosexual practices. How can that be good for them when they still have their education to complete on top of all the other challenges they face in an increasingly ruthless world?

It is when Mukula talks about Ugandan (African?) culture and homosexuality as mutually exclusive that I get a little lost. Can a man who is that smart, intellectually and sartorially, really be serious that homosexuality is alien to Uganda? Mike Mukula surely knows about gay chiefs and kings in Uganda’s past. He also cannot be oblivious to gay government officials and ex-officials, who dabble in gay sex or have dabbled in gay sex in their past, walking Uganda’s streets today. If I know about them, the very well-connected Mukula must know them, too.

So, Mukula is either being deliberately obtuse or he, too, has fallen prey to the Rebecca Kadaga syndrome; that of opening his mouth without thinking through the long-term implications of his words.

Of course he is right to caution the youth against homosexual activity – they have the rest of their lives after they reach the age of maturity to explore that.

But for an educated man of his ilk to think that homosexuality is somehow a sign of a foreign culture?

I don’t get that, Mike, I really don’t.

Which brings me to the question that keeps me awake at night; why don’t these politicians simply shut up about matters of sexuality if all they do when they open their traps is embarrass themselves with ignorant, if not hypocritical, statements?

When is the price for publicity too high?

Oscar Wilde gets another Ugandan follower: Andrew Mwenda

Oscar Wilde gets another Ugandan follower: Andrew Mwenda

“The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about at all”

Thus proclaimed Oscar Wilde, more than 100 years ago. More salient and incisive words couldn’t have been spoken by a more tortured soul in the fraught times for homosexuals that Wilde experienced in Victorian England.

Uganda’s Andrew Mwenda picked up the same theme last week and, in a one-thousand-word-article,  argued that the Red Pepper’s gay pornography of the past two weeks is actually a godsend to the gay community in Uganda.

“But of course!” anyone with a remote understanding of the value of publicity would argue, and indeed yours truly has argued so for years now. So, Andrew Mwenda is right about that point.

However, the question has to be … when is the price for publicity too high? Given the near-blanket coverage of the Bahati Nazi anti-gay bill over the last three years, and the din that it has generated over the last four weeks, did Ugandan families really have to be treated to Chris Mubiru’s pornographic recordings for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Should we, therefore, see the images of a middle-aged man having sex with a young man barely out of his teens as the icing on the gay publicity cake?

Why then do I feel more depressed about the graphic sex images than Andrew Mwenda wants me to feel? Might it be because it’s fairly apparent to me that the Red Pepper knew that the porn they were printing would serve no other purpose other than to destroy the lives of two people even as it made the paper’s editors a lot of money?