Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni says that he appreciates US President Donald Trump for telling Africans that “he is not your uncle” – possibly a reference to Trump’s plans to cut US foreign aid.
The idiosyncratic Ugandan leader made the remark at a meeting of African leaders in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, where the 6th High-Level Tana Forum is taking place under the theme, ‘Managing Natural Resources in Africa: Challenges & Prospects.’
Museveni took the opportunity to urge Africans to develop their own infrastructure and natural resources:
“African leaders should stop ideological meandering and thoroughly discuss and distill positions which can help their people transform using natural resources.
“I don’t agree with the view that education alone is the solution to Africa’s problems. That you educate your people and everything will be okay? This was part of the mistakes of the 1960s; fragmented thinking and vision.
“If you educate people but don’t have infrastructure including electricity, where will they work, how will they work?
“Look at the Philippines, it has most of its citizens working all over the world because they don’t have jobs back home while South Korea because of developed infrastructure, has most of its citizens working at home.
“On mineral resources, my key question is who owns the resources?
“We discovered oil in Uganda about 12 years ago but we have not exploited it because we could not agree with the companies. They wanted to cheat us. I said the oil has been in the ground for the last so many years and it can stay until we agree.
“We have huge iron ore reserves. Indians came and were offering us $38 per tonne of soil taken to India for processing. Our iron ore is 70% pure, second best in the world to Peru. At high steel prices, a tonne of ore goes for $900. I said nobody takes an ounce of ore until we get a good bargain for Uganda.
“It’s the same case with uranium. We have a lot of deposits. Canadians came asking that they transport and process it from Canada. I said it stays until we have built our own nuclear power station. I am not a fool to give firewood to my neighbour when I don’t have firewood in my own home.
“That’s why I love Donald Trump. He has told you he is not your uncle. This is good. For Africans who feel orphaned, I am sorry. Let us come back to our continent and mind our own affairs.”
Museveni did not elaborate further. Previously, however, he has expressed support for Trump and voiced the need for a “Trump therapy” against “liberals and leftists” whom he views as patronizing and hypocritical.
The long-time Ugandan president wrote last February of deep differences with Western liberals saying, “We would spend endless hours arguing with the Western liberals on matters on which we cannot have convergence… These are issues to do with family, forms of democracy, homosexuals, central planning versus economic liberalisation. One had to control irritation to politely get through these meetings.”
Museveni expressed frustration with liberal Western governments for dwelling on areas of difference rather than common ground such as shared commitments to universal education, healthcare, industrialisation, freedom of peoples, the emancipation of women, and anti-terrorism.
“Why not take advantage of these convergences? We who were colonised and brutalised by the Western countries forgot and forgave those mistakes. Why can’t these countries of the West have a just and balanced attitude to the countries of the East…?”
Uganda’s leader is fond of lecturing visiting Westerners on African history and ideology. In the photo below he is seen offering a “brief lecture” to a group of American generals from the National Defence University, at State House, Entebbe, in February 2017.