During his four-hour long State of the Nation address on September 9, President Museveni claimed that some foreign countries, which he did not name, were determined to influence Uganda's politics by channelling financial assistance to the opposition through civil society organizations (CSOs).
“It is important that external players refrain from interfering with the internal affairs of other countries. Interfering with the internal affairs of other countries is morally and practically wrong. Morally wrong, because the question is what kind of intelligence do you have to think that you can understand the problem in my house better than we the occupants. If we have a problem in our house, we, the occupants will solve it. It is also practically wrong because outsiders cannot have enough information about a foreign situation. They are most likely going to make mistakes. If there is any problem in Uganda, I will surely handle it better than the outsider.” Museveni said
The president accused CSOs of hiding under the Sovereignty Act to fund citizens against his government, suggesting that he would lead efforts to amend the Act.
“We should amend it [Sovereign Act], I propose an amendment so it’s clear because it is meaningless to say all power belongs to the people and then you interfere with those people when they’re making their decision. I have to enact the Sovereignty Act where citizens who help foreigners to interfere in our politics would attract appropriate legal sanctions.” he said.
The European Union, one of the major development partners in Uganda, however, denied funding protests or any undercover activities in the country, noting that the body’s funding to both government and private sector is overt and well streamlined.
“The statement that there are foreign powers or foreign development partners behind NGOs, that in itself for me is not a problem. Because you could also say there are also foreign agents and foreign countries behind government. You know, the EU has a programme with the government of Uganda for €582m for a 5-6-year period so there is foreign power behind government. Does it raise any objections? Probably not…In the same vein, the European Union supports the private sector and some civil society activities in Uganda just like we’re supporting the implementation of the national development plan through government,” Thomas Tiedemann, Head of governance and human rights at the European Union Delegation to Uganda was quoted in the media saying.
Nevertheless, the president’s comments pose a threat to the operation of CSOs in the country.