Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni has criticized Western countries for imposing what he termed as “cowardly” sanctions on African countries, particularly singling out Zimbabwe.
He made the remarks while in the Southern African coutry of Zimbabwe where he has been on a two-day working visit.
On Friday, the President spoke during the official opening of the 60th Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo, where he was the guest of honor.
He criticized foreign powers for imposing sanctions on particular countries as a check for what he called perceived weaknesses of leaders.
“I do not support the concept of imposing sanctions on any country because of perceived weaknesses of one leader,” Museveni said.
For close to two decades, Zimbabwe has suffered economic sanctions from the U.S and the European Union. The sanctions which date back to the tenure of former President Robert Mugabe challenged his government’s violation of human rights, the lack of rule of law and freedom of the press.
With the sanctions in place, Zimbabwe cannot access loans or guarantees from international financial institutions without the approval of the U.S. government.
In 2018 after Mugabe was over thrown and Emerson Mnangagwa took power, the U.S. government maintained it will not lift sanctions against Zimbabwe until Mnangagwa’s government demonstrates it is “changing its ways”.
Manisha Singh, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, told a House of Representatives hearing last year: “Our pressure on Zimbabwe remains in place. We are trying to use this pressure to leverage political and economic reforms, human rights observations”.
“We want to see fundamental changes in Zimbabwe and only then will we resume normal relations with them,” she added.
The EU lifted most of its sanctions in 2014, but has maintained those against Mugabe, his wife Grace, 8 other officials and 2 firms.
But in his speech on Friday, Museveni described such sanctions as “a cowardly act”.
“I want to condemn the sanctions which have been put on Zimbabwe for such a long time,” Museveni said.
“The idea of sanctions is cowardice. If somebody is wrong, leave him. He will fail by his own mistakes. Why do you have to put sanctions?” he said.
Museveni argues that if one’s methods are wrong, they will fail and be resisted by their own people, without foreign interference.
Later in a statement, Museveni, a sworn proponent of Pan-Africanism and integration, rallied African states to unite the same way they cooperated to resist colonial admininstration.
“It is therefore my hope, and aspiration, that Africa once again rises to the call of unity”.
The President says Africa is stronger than it was in the 1960s.
He cited the failure by many African countries to add value to their raw materials like agricultural produce and minerals, which deprives the continent of jobs and meaningful foreign exchange.
“This should not be the case,” Museveni said.
Museveni paid homage to all the revolutionary leaders, freedom fighters and the people of Zimbabwe who brought Zimbabwe to independence.
“The struggle for Zimbabwe, like for South Africa, and Kenya, had peculiar challenges as these had been marked as colonies. This meant that the colonialists had decided to take over the land,” he said in a statement shared on his social media.
He said he was pleased to be back in Zimbabwe where he first visited in 1980 at her independence and later in 1989 “when Uganda was also just freshly resurrected from a nightmare”.