POLITICAL FALL- OUT FROM THE ANNULMENT OF ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY LAWS IN UGANDA

6 Aug
Facebook Picture of Fr. Anthony Musaala

Facebook Picture of Fr. Anthony Musaala

Fr Anthony Musaala The anti-gay movement in Uganda, shamefully inspired by religious zealots, has been stung by the shock-ruling of the constitutional court declaring the Anti-Homosexuality Act null and void, due to illegal manner in which it was passed.

Enraged, the anti-gays threaten to return the Bill to parliament immediately for a second vote, assured that the Act still has great popular support. If passed, the president will be required once more, to go through the drama of assenting to it.

However, caution is advised.

The cost of passing this Act the first time round has been high, both financially, with aid cuts, but also for President Museveni’s reputation abroad with ‘development partners’, which has sunk lower than low.

Museveni being aware of this, recently put out a statement, slightly back-peddling on the Anti-homosexuality Act (AHA) claiming that ‘development partners’ had misunderstood it.

So while Museveni felt it was necessary to be populist by signing the Bill the first time round with view to 2016 polls, he soon realized that the implications internationally were grave.

What a second a signing of the AHA is likely to do is to have even more dire consequences for the president; the effect of killing off entirely as it were, the goose that lays the golden egg; namely, the much needed close relationships with ‘development partners’

Any hope of improving the greatly soured relationships with ‘development partners’ (dps) will be deader than dead. As far as dps are concerned,the annulment of the AHA by the constitutional court would have been a good opportunity for Museveni to wash his hands of these discriminatory laws entirely and restore his honour abroad, also perhaps triggering resumption of aid, some of which would happily wend its way into 2016 campaign coffers.

But it seems the gay issue is precipitating a crisis even before the 2016 polls.

In Africa, leaders are maintained both by internal popularity and by foreign backing. At certain times internal popularity will tip the balance in favour of a candidate at an election. This means that foreign backing alone may not quite do the trick.

This happened in Kenya with the election of Uhuru Kenyatta, who was not backed by either the US or the UK, but who secured a majority of votes from the internal electorate who voted him in, to the dismay of the foreign backers.

At other times foreign backing is the determining factor which keeps a leader in power even when unwanted by the electorate. The scenario for Uganda is by no means clear. If the AHA is returned to parliament for another vote, Museveni will be in more of a dilemma than the first time round.

The annulment of the AHA will have caused deeper entrenchment of the Anti-gay lobby in its opposition to homosexuality, which will now be seen as a matter of national honour, in which the ”court of the people” (mob injustice?) must defeat the elitist west leaning judiciary, who anyway must have been bribed by pink pounds and dollars!

If Museveni does not sign the Act, he may actually for the first time be facing massive defeat at the next polls, cash injections notwithsatnding. The thought of this is going to prompt very deep soul searching if not unbridgeable divisions within the ruling party, which wants a strategy to rule forever, but may now have serious doubts about their already chosen ‘sole candidate’ Mr Museveni.

Assenting to the Act however, may also be a nightmare for the president.The ‘development partners’, will be incensed that Museveni who had a chance to wash his hands of the Act when the constitutional court ruled against it, has not taken it!

The conclusion by ‘development partners’ therefore may be that Museveni is no longer a reliable or suitable partner for anything at all and will have to be ‘‘un-backed’’ and replaced. Usually when ”development partners” take that position an ”elected” leader’s days are numbered (Saddam, Mobutu, Sankara, Obote I, Moi) It would be instructional to African politics if the gay issue finally evicts Uganda’s ruler of 28 years.

It would have suddenly become the ‘X’ factor in Ugandan politics, which no-one saw coming.

Fr Anthony Musaala

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