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Mystery Clouds South African and Ugandan Presidential Meeting

By African HRC Staff, December 24, 2014.

South African President Jacob Zuma met with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni on a state visit this week, apparently intending to bolster a “new” partnership with President Museveni; one that would help the two principals to highlight issues of peace and security on the continent.

He is also expected to visit Tanzania to hold similar talks with President Jakaya Kikwete.

Yet I ask how can one bolster peace and security if one fails to chastise the Museveni regime for its supportive role in legislation that seeks to single out a minority group in the country for persecution and serious human rights infractions? I doubt this discussion was on the menu!

Whereas the South African Constitution provides full equality to its LGBTI citizens, the Ugandan government seeks to ensure oppression and persecution of LGBTI Ugandans. President Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act into law in Febraury of this past year. The law was invalidated by the Courts in August, and since then a majority lobby in the Museveni party seeks to bring back similar and more onerous legislation into the Ugandan Parliament for passage.

"While political watchers cited the need for South Africa to take leadership as Africa’s “big brother”, especially in the fight against terrorism, the official government version indicated that the visit is within the context of consolidating the African agenda through the enhancement and deepening of bilateral political, economic and social relations." (Monitor)

Surely its time for South Africa to play “big brother” when it comes to some basic human rights too – that of all Africans. In the same way as the world and Africa fought against apartheid, so should the equality proponents in Africa, such as South Africa, fight for the equal treatment of all Africans.

Apparently the office of Uganda’s President is not that forthcoming about the meeting as according to the Ugandan Press: “Speaking to Daily Monitor yesterday, the presidential press secretary, Tamale Mirundi, feigned ignorance of the details of the meeting. He asked for time to consult before getting back to this newspaper. “

“I am not a protocol person so I don’t know why he is coming to Uganda,” he said adding that Uganda and South Africa are friendly countries and that “it is normal for South Africa to work with us.” (Seriously!)

To be sure this could have a lot to do with Sudan and maybe even the oil. I have every doubt that Zuma would have had the decency to talk about anything other than his selfish hypocritical needs – ignoring the awful political oppression of the Museveni dictator regime when it comes to a myriad of important democratic ideals, including freedom of expression, sexuality, and much more.

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