By Sadab Kitatta Kaaya
President Museveni used his pre-inauguration dinner on Wednesday to accuse western donor countries of trying to re- colonise Africa.
At least nine African presidents attended the dinner at Speke Resort Munyonyo, ahead of Museveni’s sixth inauguration ceremony yesterday. They were John Pombe Magufuli (Tanzania), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Jacob Zuma (South Africa), Teodore Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (Equatorial Guinea) and Ibrahim Boubacari (Mali), Muhammad
Issoufour (Niger), Idriss Deby (Chad), Edgar Lungu (Zambia), King Letsie III (Lesotho), Sheikh Hassan Mohamud (Somalia).
Other dignitaries included former presidents Ali Hassan Mwinyi (Tanzania) and Mahinda Rajapaska (Sri Lanka) as well as delegations from Rwanda, Burundi, Egypt and Djibout.
A jovial Museveni, facing continuing widespread criticism in the aftermath of a shambolic election and the ensuing clampdown on dissenters, commended his guests for showing “fraternal solidarity” with Uganda.
“African leaders should consider political integration because there is a possibility of re-colonisation or marginalization,” Museveni said.
Museveni spoke a day after the head of the European Union delegation in Uganda Kristian Schmidt in a speech on Europe Day on Tuesday, appeared to criticize the president’s reluctance to embrace change.
The envoy also said it was wrong for African leaders to look at their critical European counterparts as neo- colonialists yet majority of EU member states have no colonial history.
But Museveni told his guests that Europe was taking advantage of the lack of cohesion among African leaders.
“Foreigners are taking advantage of our weaknesses [yet] Africa has capacity to deal with these weaknesses,” Museveni said.
He cited the defeat of the Joseph Kony led Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and containment of the Somali extremist group al-Shabaab to support his belief that Africa can deal with its own problems without necessarily involving the West.
“The problem has been lack of consensus on what needs to be done. Let African leaders sit and plan on how to solve this,” Museveni said.
For nearly four hours, guests waited impatiently up to about 8:56pm when the police brass band started playing some NRA revolutionary tunes. Guests stood up thinking the presidents had finally arrived but the wait had to go on for another 38 minutes when Museveni finally walked into the hall leading six visiting presidents.
Tanzania’s Magufuli walked in a minute behind them attracting cheers from the guests but louder cheers would come 10 minutes later when Zimbabwe’s Mugabe walked in.
At 56 and 59 years respectively, Tanzania’s Magufuli and Zambia’s Lungu appeared to be the youngsters in the club of elders seated at the high table while Nguema, Mugabe, Museveni and Deby are the longest serving presidents at 37, 36, 30 and 26 years in power respectively.
Former UPC party president Miria Nalule Obote, widow to former president Apollo Milton Obote, also attended the dinner in the company of her son Jimmy Akena who heads a faction of the opposition.
Source: All Africa