President Yoweri Museveni, through his stay in London this week for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), might be encountering questions from the British leaders, concerning among others his exit from office.
The 25th meeting of the Common Wealth Heads of States was opened this morning by Queen Elizabeth at the Buckingham Palace in London.
The biennial meeting brings together the heads of government of the Commonwealth’s 53 member states.
This meeting, the first to be held in London in over 40 years, is expected to be the last to be presided over by Queen Elizabeth, since she can no-longer travel overseas.
In the build up to the London meeting, Members of the British Parliament called on their government to utilize the meeting to call out African leaders on a number of issues pertaining good governance.
One of the MPs, Dr. Paul Williams (MP Stockton South) took to the floor to demand, “Will the government use CHOGM to give a message to Uganda’s President Museveni that after 32 years in power he’s become a barrier to his country’s development and that good governance includes leaving office?”
In response, the British Secretary of State for International Development Penny Mordaunt said this and other issues will be tackled during the bilateral meetings with the various heads of state.
“My Right Honorable Friend the Minister for Africa and other Ministers will be having bilaterals all week, with all heads of the commonwealth and the ministers where the heads are not attending.”
MP Williams’ comments however, were not well received by State House, who shot right back angrily.
President Yoweri Museveni’s Senior Press Secretary Don Wanyama condemned what he called a colonial mentality by the British Politician and the efforts to always try to meddle in African affairs.
“The UK MP still possesses a colonial mentality where he thinks the western metropolis should determine what happens in Africa,” he said, adding; “Mr Paul Williams show Ugandans some respect. We know what’s best for us. Have you stopped to ask how long the queen has been on the throne?”
The 45 year old, Dr Williams seemed to be talking from his personal experience, having lived and worked in Uganda as a health worker.
For 5 years, Williams ran a health program in Kisoro district, involving the implementation of a community health insurance scheme.
This involved helping to set up a community hospital near the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest which provided HIV, malaria and tuberculosis services.
Through the facility, Williams says he helped supply cheap mosquito nets and was able to trim the Malaria prevalence in the area.
Paul’s team also started the first HIV/AIDS testing and treatment service in the area.
“When we went there nothing was happening with HIV at all – people just died,” he said.
Now there is a two-storey treatment centre plus a mobile clinic – “One of the first and best mobile HIV clinics in Africa”.
He says he will never forget his time in Uganda which he described as an experience “most of us should be doing”.
“I have learned that the problems in Africa, although they appear at first to be massive, are not insurmountable.”