African Development: Opportunities and Challenges
Remarks of Yoweri K. Museveni,
President of the Republic of Uganda
Note: An interview with the President will air on dialogue on Wednesday, May 29 at 8:00 p.m. on MHz NETWORKS. This show will re-air on Sunday, June 2 at 3:30 p.m. on MHz2.
Good Afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. On behalf of the people of Uganda, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have worked so diligently to make this official working visit to the United States a resounding success through increased solidarity between Uganda and the United States in the areas of trade, investment, conflict resolution and the fight against HIV/AIDS.
In particular, I express my profound appreciation to Ambassador Howard Wolpe and the Woodrow Wilson Center for organizing this seminar on "African Development Opportunities and Challenges." Over the past four years and hours of consultations, I've grown to appreciate and respect Ambassador Wolpe in his role as Presidential Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region under the Clinton Administration. He has been a key actor in promoting peace and security in Burundi and Congo, and we applaud his continued commitment to forging partnerships in Africa here at the Center.
This afternoon, I would like to address the challenges and opportunities for "leadership" in the era of globalization in Africa. I am here to share a message of solidarity, hope and progress in the promotion of prosperity, peace and health for all humanity in the 21st century.
Since the turn of the 21st century, there has been much debate about a "new world order" and the "global village," apparently, due to the end of the Cold War between Western Countries and the former Soviet Union. Of course, the end of the dangerous and misguided rivalry between communism and capitalism is welcome and has, indeed, opened some new opportunities if fully utilized by all concerned. However, it must be pointed out unequivocally that many of the problems in the world predate the Cold War; they predate the onset of communism in Russia in 1917. The slave trade started in the 1440s along the West African coast.
A shift from bleeding Africa through slavery to resident colonialism was ordained in Berlin in 1884. This was long before communism took over in Russia. Therefore, the Cold War could not have been responsible for these mistakes and for the complications they created, many of which we are still grappling with up to today, especially in Africa.
Indeed, the euphoria is not wholly justified. The song about globalization, as I have pointed out repeatedly, is not a new tune at all. Since the 1440s, the Africans were globalized as slaves all over all over the world. My Christian name is Joel, a Jewish name. Many of my countrymen have got Arab names like Aziz, Musa. We were globalized long ago. Unfortunately, though, that "globalization" movement was parasitic; it was not symbiotic.
Therefore, the only new question we can legitimately and usefully ask is: Will the new phase of globalization be less parasitic and more symbiotic or not? The parasitism in the world is not the sole responsibility of those who benefit from the inequality. Even the victims have always contributed to their marginalization by their own wrong aims and methods before colonization, during colonization and, even, after colonization. African myopic chiefs were key facilitators of the slave trade. Until very recently, the Europeans did not possess the technological means to subdue the African Continent as far as transport means (railway), weapons or medicine (Quinine) were concerned. Without the fratricidal wars fomented by the African chiefs, neither slave trade nor colonialism would have been possible. We would have defeated the colonialists and forced them, right from the beginning, to co-operate with us for everybody's mutual benefit. Weakness on the side of the potential víctim always tempts the aggressor.
Even today, however, the authorship of the inequality among peoples is still a joint responsibility of the victims (Africans, Arabs and other marginalized peoples) of the parasitic globalization movement that is now 500 years old on the one hand, and the beneficiaries of this hitherto parasitic globalization. On account of a variety of reasons, some of the formally colonized peoples (the Indians, the Indonesians, the Pakistanis, the South East Asians and Latin Americans) and the formerly semi-colonized peoples (such as the Chinese) have made significant upward movements that are helping to slowly, but surely, even-out the balance of power in the world. Some of the other peoples, however, on account of a number of endogenous and exogenous factors are still living as the wretched of the Earth. Many of the Africans and some of the Arabs fall into this category of the still unredeemed of the Earth. As I have said, the unredeemed are still so categorized partly on account of their own internal mistakes (sectarianism, xenophobia, unprincipled conflicts, strangulation of free enterprise, political balkanization of their regions, strangulation of political freedom, etc) and, partly; on account of the still very unfavorable exogenous factors. The most unfavorable exogenous factor is lack of access to markets in North America, EU, Japan, China, India and Russia.
The song about aid is meaningless without access to markets. All protectionism, especially in the OECD countries, must end. Subsidies to farmers of Europe and now in the U.S. via the pending Farm Bill must end if we are talking of a "global village" of symbiosis and not parasitism. I commend the leadership of the American government and President George W. Bush for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). American leaders are now beginning to create a model of non-parasitic global villagers. Indeed, I have previously called AGOA the first friendship act of the West towards Africa.
European leaders should also move forward. They have talked about "everything but guns" going into Europe from Africa, but they are still giving subsidies to artificial farmers in Europe. This distorts the trade in agricultural products. As a consequence, out of US$1.2 trillion that is the value of the global trade in agricultural products, África gets only about US$20 billion, which is about 2 percent of the total! At the same time, the OECD countries give only $50 billion on official development assistance but are spending US$361 billion subsidizing artificial farmers of these countries. Yet these are the countries that evangelize in the name of free trade! ! What a paradox that is quite unfortunate. These double standards must end.
In particular, the World Bank doesn't allow me to give subsidies to my farmers, but all governments of the European Union and the United States practice this while they preach about "free trade." This is outrageous. Our farmers can compete on their own, and I don't want to subsidize them. But, if you're talking about one world, one village, then the rich should not maintain subsidies while the poor can't. What sort of logic is this? What sort of morality is this? If Africa cannot sell agricultural products, what can Africa contribute to world trade?
Therefore, during this visit, I am leading a trade mission that believes that equitable and just partnership between the public and private sectors is the formula for Africa's integration into 21st century globalization. African leaders have now removed some of the old impediments to private investment. The sanctity of private property is now almost a universal concept in Africa. In the 1960s, many African governments began to nationalize in the name of some sort of pseudo-nationalism. This would never happen in Uganda today because I spent many years in the bush fighting these misguided policies. Furthermore, some African countries have a consistently stable macro-economic framework (inflation in Uganda is now - 0.3 percent); the African currencies are now convertible; a large part of Africa is very peaceful; infrastructure is reasonable; and democracy is widely practiced in Africa today.
Yesterday, I pointed out that Africa now has 800 million people, and in terms of land area, the continent is as big as the U.S., China, Brazil, India and Russia combined. China's 1.2 billion people and India's 1 billion means these countries are saturated and cannot sustain further population growth. However, the African continent has the most potential for growth if the population is economically empowered. Empower Africans, not for the sake of empowering them out of a sense of philanthropy!! Think strategically and create markets for American goods!
Likewise, leaders across the continent and the people of Uganda are committed to deepening and broadening regional economic integration through the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market of East and Southern Africa (COMESA), the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). We believe that these initiatives will create economies of scale, harmonize policies, pool resources, consolidate private investment and promote intra-regional and international trade. The world, therefore, needs to encourage these positive trends in Africa by opening up their markets on a quota free, tariff-free basis. This will encourage the multi-national investors to come to Africa, as they are already doing on account of AGOA. As President Bush indicated in his address to the UN Summit for Financing Development in Monterrey, through a new pact for development between rich and poor countries, equitable world development is possible and desirable for everybody.
Furthermore, through leadership we can overcome the scourge of HIV/AIDS in Africa. The international community has identified Uganda's campaign against HIV/AIDS as one of the world's most successful model in combating the pandemic. In ten years, we have reduced the rate of infection from 30 percent to 6.1 percent, through high profile government solidarity with grass-roots entities to raise awareness, increase prevention and provide treatment for people living with HIV. Across Africa, at least 7,000 people a day are dying of AIDS, and we believe that this urgently demands constructive public-private partnerships to reduce the death rate dramatically through provision of effective anti-retroviral treatments. Incidentally, AIDS is quite easy to prevent. It is not infectious. By shaking someone's hand, you can't be infected. Fortunately, AIDS doesn't spread through insect bites. AIDS is benign, not very infectious and spreads in a few known ways mainly through unprotected sex, blood transfusion, in some cases (not all) by mother to child transmission, and traditional practices in some tribes using unsterile instruments in circumcision. It is easy to stop transmission. Therefore, I can't understand why leaders have failed to confront this problem and save the people from this preventable disease!!
In the area of conflict resolution, African leadership has made great progress forward. On the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, most of the issues have been addressed as contained in the Lusaka Peace Accord, negotiated under the leadership of former Zambian President Frederick Chiluba. For example, the ceasefire is holding there has been no fighting in most parts of Congo for over a year. Likewise, under the leadership of former Botswanan President Sir Ketumile Masire, the Inter-Congolese Dialogue was hosted by the South African Government. Specifically, the finalization of a power- sharing agreement between Congolese parties to the conflict and the unarmed opposition is progressing. The recent agreement signed between President Joseph Kabila and Jean-Pierre Bemba--one of the rebel leaders we have been working with--is a positive step that can be built on to include others especially the RCD-Goma that is supported by Rwanda and Etienne Tshisekedi, one of the long-serving unarmed opposition leaders. We have already reached out to Rwanda, with proposals on how to include their allies in the new power-sharing arrangement. Once there is an all-inclusive power-sharing arrangement, the issues of disarmament of negative forces, like the Interahamwe perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and the withdrawal of all foreign forces will be addressed quickly.
Likewise, in Burundi, tangible results are now evident after years of political negotiations under the mediation of two prominent African Statesmen--the late Tanzanian President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and former South African President Mzee Nelson Mandela, for which I served as the Chair of the Regional Initiative. Specifically, a transition government was launched last year that includes all parties to the peace process. However, negotiations continue for a ceasefire agreement between three Hutu rebel groups and the Burundi government army. Our brothers and sisters in South Africa have been working hard to facilitate talks aimed at reaching this ceasefire, and South African military officials are present in Bujumbura to guarantee security of returning exiled politicians as part of the implementation of the Arusha peace accord.
Furthermore, in Sudan, there appears to be progress towards a negotiated political settlement. The leadership in our region has been working hard to make sure that that the continent's longest running conflict is finally resolved. For example, Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, our elder statesman, has been working hard to make sure that the Sudanese peace process is on course, under the frame work of the Inter Governmental Authority on Drought (IGAD). We welcome other peace initiatives on Sudan that include the troika of the United States, United Kingdom and Norway. However, lack of coordination in multiple peace initiatives can be counterproductive, and therefore, all efforts should be leveraged to address specific areas of need.
In sum, while the West focuses on the wars in Congo, Burundi, and Sudan, we must recall that there has been war in Ireland for at least the past thirty years as well. Europe was divided for forty years since World War II with the threat of nuclear attacks, and yet investment continued to take place, and they did not wait until the fall of communism to launch the Marshall Plan. While there is confrontation in Congo, many regions of Africa are peaceful like Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia despite some wrong economic policies in the past.
Finally, Africa has a key role to play in the Global Campaign Against Terrorism. Uganda and indeed the entire continent expressed its sincere condolences to the victims of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Uganda has also been a direct target of terrorism from brutal attacks against local and American civilians by the Lord's Resistance Army and the Allied Democratic Forces groups that are included on the State Department's Terrorist Exclusion List. In accordance with the African Pact Against Terrorism, signed last October, African leaders have demonstrated their solidarity to fight terrorism and its breeding grounds that span the continent from Cairo to Cape Town.
On behalf of Ugandans and friends of Uganda everywhere, I thank you very much for your warm hospitality and dedication to peace and prosperity in Uganda, across the continent of Africa and around the world.
Question from the Wilson Center's Professor Gilbert Khadiagala: Are you optimistic about the reconstitution of the Congo as a territorial state over the long term?
President Museveni: Yes Americans are unduly pessimistic about Africa. The problems of Congo are like the earlier problems in Uganda. It's a question of management. Governance in Africa is problematic for two fundamental reasons: 1) the structure of society is preindustrial is not glued together by middle class, no nonsense people interested in money-making like in the U.S., but rather is based on tribe and religion. Europe has transcended its historical wars because of the evolution of a middle class; 2) the structure of the states themselves is a legacy of colonialism. In Uganda under British colonial rule, the "brains" were British (administrators and military officers) and the "body" was African. After independence, the head was removed and only the colonial African auxiliaries remained as the body and were unprepared for leadership. [Former Zairian President] Mobutu was like [former Ugandan President] Amin. Indeed, the problems in Congo and on the continent are not African problems, they are European problems in Africa. Now, we are sorting them out and have been struggling for years to create a state with new intelligentsia, police, justice and other institutions. The challenge of Congo is leadership and the need to develop a real Congolese state. Lumumba was killed before he had a chance to. Finally, the Uganda of murderers and killings is now the Uganda of growth and stability. Leadership and the structure of the state are the keys, and Congo is one that can be even more viable with all of its natural resources.
Question from the an eastern DRCongo citizen: First, we have always seen your leadership as a blessing in Africa, but my question is about the Banyarwanda issue and how the Banyamulenge problem has escalated there are so many factions and peace is elusive. Would you comment on the RCD-Goma, Rwanda, and the Banyamulenge?
Although I'm not Congolese and can't speak for them, I can tell you that Uganda had all the problems that you're talking about Christians vs. Protestants, Baganda vs. other tribes. The issue is due to ideologically bankrupt leadership and the ability to see where the future lies. Without good leadership, small and nonissues become big issues. In 1963, in the OAU Charter, we agreed that the colonial borders would stay as they are. This means that Banyamulenge in Masisi and Bukavu, and the Nandis (of Uganda) should stay in Congo and that the government must also respect them. The problem is rooted in 1995 when Mobutu said that the Banyamulenge are not Congolese citizens. You can't say "I want the land, but not the people." If we want to create greater unity, we shouldn't create acrimony. For example, in Uganda, we believe that the approach should be through the East African Union to "get back our people" and to be united with the coastal people of Kenya and Tanzania.
Question from a Ugandan citizen of Tororo: In reference to your analysis of exogenous and endogenous forces, what is your view of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the question of African leadership's new approach in taking responsibility for their actions specifically, in the response to Zimbabwe as the hypocrisy of NEPAD?
President Museveni: Zimbabwe was mishandled by a number of stakeholders, not only by the British, but also by the Zimbabwean government. When Mandela was released from prison and came to Uganda, I spoke to him about four key sectors of Southern African economies: agriculture, real estate, mining and industries/services. Africans were absent as owners in all four sectors. Therefore, there had to be a mechanism from the beginning and an agreement with whites to enable Africans to move up in at least one sector: agriculture. In Uganda, we have no shortage of food because farmers' have land to cultivate, but in the Southern Africa Development Community region, Africans don't even have enough land for self-subsistence. Therefore, this was bound to cause problems and political conflicts. A win-win situation would have been for government to a chunk of money to buy not grab the land from whites so they could move to another sector like mining and industry. Recently in Geneva at the UN Human Rights Commission annual meeting, we were engaged in negotiations for a resolution on the situation in Zimbabwe. However, the Europeans only wanted to include language condemning Mugabe, not on the need for land reform, so we were not able to vote for it. Nevertheless, in Uganda, Idi Amin had a policy of "pseudo-nationalism" confiscating properties from the Asians, which were returned when we came into power. For us, the Asians invest, create jobs for Ugandans, earn foreign exchange and contribute to the nation, therefore they are Ugandan. In particular, in my trade delegation I've brought Mr. Madhvani he may be brown in color, but he is African in reality.
Question: The steering committee for NEPAD will be at the G8 meeting in Canada in June what is the response from the G8 regarding market access and the question about subsidies for farmers?
President Museveni: AGOA allows 1,800 African products into the US duty-free and quota free. For Uganda, this means garments, footwear, processed fish, beef, and leather products, so let us deal with other issues in the G8 forum.