Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni in quest to find alternative sources of revenue following fallout with the World Bank
In a dramatic move that has sent ripples through diplomatic circles, the World Bank announced on Tuesday that it would suspend new funding to Uganda in response to the country’s highly controversial anti-LGBTQ law. The decision has sparked a heated response from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has criticised the move and promised to seek alternative sources of credit.
President Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, expressed his disappointment in a statement on Thursday, asserting that Uganda would not bow to pressure from foreign institutions.
“It is, therefore, unfortunate that the World Bank and other actors dare to want to coerce us into abandoning our faith, culture, principles, and sovereignty, using money. They really underestimate all Africans,” he remarked.
The new anti-LGBTQ law, which was approved in May, has faced widespread condemnation from human rights organisations. The law imposes severe penalties, including capital punishment for “aggravated homosexuality,” which encompasses transmitting HIV through same-sex acts, and 20 years in prison for “promoting” homosexuality.
The World Bank’s decision to halt new loans to Uganda is grounded in its commitment to inclusion and non-discrimination.
The bank released a statement saying, “We believe our vision to eradicate poverty on a livable planet can only succeed if it includes everyone irrespective of race, gender, or sexuality. This law undermines those efforts. Inclusion and non-discrimination sit at the heart of our work around the world.”
This suspension of funding has left Uganda grappling with the potential financial impact. The government is preparing to request a vote in parliament for a revised budget to accommodate the lending suspension. Junior finance minister Henry Musasizi informed lawmakers that they would be seeking approval in the coming week.
The World Bank has emphasised that its existing portfolio of $5.2 billion in Uganda will not be affected by the suspension. However, the country’s plans for future projects could face setbacks, potentially forcing a revision of its budget.
President Museveni remains defiant in the face of international pressure, asserting that if Uganda needs to borrow, it can tap other sources of funding. He has also highlighted the forthcoming oil production, slated to begin by 2025, as a potential revenue source.
Uganda’s anti-LGBTQ law has drawn international condemnation beyond the World Bank’s decision. In June, the United States imposed visa restrictions on some Ugandan officials in response to the law. President Joe Biden also ordered a review of US aid to Uganda, indicating a broader diplomatic fallout.
This move by the World Bank comes after it had previously expressed concerns about the anti-LGBTQ law, citing its inconsistency with the bank’s values. The lender had been under pressure from various civic groups to take action, including suspending future lending.
As the situation unfolds, both Uganda and the World Bank are set to face the consequences of their stances. The suspension of funding raises questions about the future of development projects in Uganda and its economic prospects.
Meanwhile, the World Bank’s decision highlights the growing role of human rights considerations in international financial interactions and underscores the bank’s commitment to promoting inclusion and non-discrimination globally.
This clash between a sovereign nation’s legislation and international financial principles illustrates the complex interplay between cultural values, human rights, and economic partnerships.
As the debate continues, Uganda finds itself at a crossroads, balancing its pursuit of financial stability with international expectations for upholding human rights.
The outcome of this dispute could reverberate far beyond Uganda’s borders, shaping the discourse on LGBTQ rights, sovereignty, and the role of international organisations in promoting inclusivity.