Donors threaten aid cuts if Uganda passes harsh anti-gay Bill

Saturday November 24 2012

By ESTHER NAKKAZI Special Correspondent

Uganda risks further aid cuts over the planned enactment of the controversial anti-gay Bill.

Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga promised last week that the House will pass the anti-gay Bill as a “Christmas gift” to Ugandans.

But development partners who give direct aid to Uganda, and had not already suspended aid to Uganda over failure to fight corruption, have threatened to link their aid cuts, yet to be announced, to the Bill if Uganda passes it as promised, said an official from the Ministry of Finance.

Recently, Britain announced that it had frozen £11.1 million of the £26.9 million it had allocated as total direct aid to Uganda.

Uganda’s other financiers Norway, Denmark, Ireland and Sweden, had long cut aid over corruption and the government’s failure to end it.

Now more financiers including Netherlands, Italy, France, Japan, Spain and Finland have threatened to freeze money if Uganda passes the anti-gay Bill.

Rev Simon Lakodo, the State Minister of Ethics and Integrity, said the Bill would be passed “by all means.”

“In my observation, it will win 99.9 per cent applause. It is even overdue, most of the Members of Parliament have been saying,” said Lokodo.

However, the US, though not cutting aid as promised by the ambassador to Uganda Scott H. DeLisi, has started to show its resentment through different diplomatic channels.

Last week, the Speaker of parliament, who was due to travel to the United States said the US government had written to her saying they would not offer any security during her trip.

The same treatment was accorded to David Bahati, the member of Parliament, who came up with the anti-gay Bill while on a trip to America.

In December last year, President Barack Obama’s administration, announced that America would not accept efforts by nations that are ready to criminalise homosexual conduct and abuse gay rights.

Development assistance to Uganda rose to $1.1 billion for on-budget and off-budget aid in the financial year 2012/13, up from $743 million last year.

But America’s support to Uganda is mostly off budget, supporting projects run by their countrymen in Uganda.

“It is unfortunate that donors intimidate us. We are defending the culture of Ugandans and it is a practise that is intolerable to us,” said Rev Lakodo.