Britain, decease one of Uganda’s largest donor partners has raised anxiety regarding the country’s diminishing respect for human rights and the rule of law.
The UK’s Department for International Development [DFID] expressed the concerns in its latest Operational Plan Report for Uganda [2011-2016] which it released over the weekend.
DFID is charged with leading UK’s poverty eradication programs around the globe.
Among other activities, health the Department honours the UK’s international commitments and ensures that all aid is effectively utilized through enhancing transparency, openness and value for money.
The body also supports free and fair elections and helps people in its partner developing countries to hold their authorities accountable.
In the report released last Friday, the government of UK expressed concern that Uganda is heading to the 2016 general elections with little prospects of a peaceful transition, something the country hasn’t seen since independence.
“The [County’s] human rights record is mixed with some worrying trends on free association, assembly and speech,” noted the report.
The report comes at the heels of an intensified quest by the opposition for free and fair 2016 general elections, which they say can only come by major constitutional reforms.
Forum for Democratic Change former president Col Kiiza Besigye, who is at the forefront of the reforms, has gone as far as suggesting an election boycott in the event that government refuses to effect the changes.
While DFID appreciates that Uganda is often described as an island of stability in an unstable region, it warned that this highly valued stability could be impacted if governance trends continue to decline and conflict drivers aren’t addressed.
The UK, Uganda’s second-largest bilateral donor last year took a decision to indefinitely suspend budget support to the country and re-programme funds through other channels, following misappropriation claims in the Office of the Prime Minister.
UK is also the largest cumulative inward investor to Uganda, with $1 billion in foreign direct investment, and supports protection of stability in the region, including through Uganda’s leading role in the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.
Uganda however, currently funding more than 80 percent of its budget, has trained focus on becoming entirely independence on donor aid.
In the wake of cancelation of aid by various countries following a passed law against homosexuality President Museveni came out and vowed not to accept the tendency of rich counties using their funds to attack Uganda’s culture, which is the very bedrock of people’s survival.
Meanwhile, the DFID Report hailed the Uganda’s strides toward becoming a middle income economy by 2040.
“Underpinned by the end of conflict and sustained stability, Uganda’s growth rate has averaged an impressive 6% over the past two decades and is projected to continue at this level in the near term.
It is estimated that GDP growth for 2013/14 will be 5.7% with a slightly higher level in 2014/15.”
“There has been very good progress towards a number of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including an impressive decline in the proportion of people living below the national poverty line from 31% to 20% between 2006 and 2013,” it reads.
Britain is however concerned that this growth has not translated into development by benefitting everyone. More than 40% of the population noted the report, still lives below the country’s poverty line.
“Growth has not translated into widespread employment in decent jobs, and it is estimated that Uganda will need to create 1.5 million jobs annually by 2037,” noted DFID.
“Uganda has the third highest population growth rate in the world, which is compounding the challenges of a rapidly growing number of underemployed young people, as well as stretching government’s ability to provide services.”