By Julia Taliesin
Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda, tweeted last Tuesday in defense of the vulgar comment President Donald Trump allegedly made about Haiti and African nations being “shithole countries.”
President Museveni tweeted, “…Donald Trump speaks to Africans frankly. Africans need to solve their problems. You can’t survive if you are weak. It is the Africans’ fault that they are weak. We are 12 times the size of India, but why are we not strong?”
Other African leaders did not share Museveni’s approval. Representatives of other African nations swiftly and strongly denounced Trump’s comment. Jessie Duarte, the Deputy Secretary General of South Africa’s African National Congress, said, “Ours is not a shithole country and neither is Haiti or any other country in distress.” Reuters reported that Botswana’s foreign ministry called the comment “highly irresponsible, reprehensible and racist.”
This is not the first time Museveni has expressed his approval of Trump. During the opening of the East African Legislative Assembly, he stated that, “America has got one of the best presidents ever.” According to the BBC, this comment was met with laughter.
Museveni has been the president of Uganda for over three decades. He has a history of amending the constitution to allow himself to run for more terms. Though he had originally said that due to the presidential age limit of 75 (Museveni is 73, and his birth date is debated), he signed a bill ending such age limits in December, allowing him to run for a sixth term in 2021. The BBC has reported that he has also been accused of grooming his son to succeed him.
Museveni and his administration have numerous ties with United States conservatives, particularly the right-wing Christian movements. In 2014, Museveni signed a controversial anti-homosexuality bill into law, making homosexuality punishable by life in prison. The legislation was dubbed the “Kill the Gays” bill because an earlier version included the death penalty as a punishment. While American right-wing activists are not directly responsible for the bill, they have played a significant role in fueling anti-gay sentiment in Ugandan churches. Though the law was ruled unconstitutional six months later on procedural grounds, violence and discrimination continues against gay people, or those suspected of being gay.
Museveni’s approval of Trump’s comment continues to remain unique among leaders of African countries. Direct communication between the two of them has not been widely publicized, and it is unclear if this will develop into any specific political relationship.