President Museveni has said that he is opposed to the idea of selective repatriation of Ugandans living abroad noting that all Ugandans in the Diaspora are equal and should be treated equally.
The President made the comments during his 14th address to the nation on measures against the prevailing COVID-19 Pandemic in which he gave a way foreward on further easing of the lockdown pegged to mandatory use of free face masks to be distributed by Government in two weeks.
Museveni’s comments follow reactions from the general public upon the leaking of letters in which some Ugandans including the family members of abusiness mogul, Chairman Ben Kavuya were cleared by both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Health to fly back into the country.
“No Ugandan is more important than the other, all Ugandans in the diaspora are equal, we should have a transparent policy on how to rescue our people, not favouritism,” Museveni said.
The President was however quick to add that small numbers using special passenger planes and not cargo flights can be handled.
“The question is which small groups and why, the paper from Ministry of Health and Foreign Affairs to which you should all contribute will help us to get correct answers; I cannot accept the idea of Cargo planes being used to transport passengers,” Museveni directed Ministers.
Museveni said that the issue of repatriating Ugandans should be studied very seriously and not engage in shallow propaganda, bearing in mind that the Ugandans in the Diaspora are living in very highly infected countries.
He said that the issue should be approached with the usual seriousness of the NRM not the “contemptable but dangerous populism of some of the actors.”
Museveni noted that during the dangerous time of Uganda’s history from 1966 up to 1986, very many Ugandans fled the country in search of safety and when the NRM restored peace and security, many stayed abroad voluntarily to earn a livelihood for their families and sending money home.
“Indeed they have been remitting USD1.3bn per annum to Uganda, and this money which was greater than the 416m dollars from Coffee per year, but lower than 1.6bn from tourism,” President explained.
Turning to other areas of the economy, Museveni added: “Our own base sectors such as agriculture, the innovations of scientists and manufacturing will earn much more than this if only the political class and the new colonial bureaucracy will either listen to our message or be forced to,” Museveni said.
The President noted that Uganda has some of the highest number of people living in foreign countries due to its challenging history as compared to other countries on the continent.
“We have about 170, 000 Ugandans in North America, 558, 000 in Europe, I38, 000 in thenMiddle East, 1.1m in Southern Africa, 150 in Nigeria, 400 in Algeria, 2500 in China and the big numbers are in the US, Europe and Southern Africa; if all our people decide to come back in panic, without a vaccine, without cheap, affordable and reliable diagnostic tests and without any medicated treatment for the virus, how would the country manage them,” Museveni wondered.
He added that, “You are seeing how much trouble the lorry drivers are giving us, yet the number of truckers who come in and out of the country in a month are not more than 100, 000.”
Museveni observed that when the crisis started, the government concentrated on saving Uganda’s base first and appreciated God for “our steps have ensured no coffins in Uganda like it is in other countries.”