IMF $1 Billion Loan To Uganda: How the Bank Undermines Democratization While Aiding and Abetting Corruption

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IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva. See no evil, hear no evil. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which approved a $1 billion loan to Uganda on Monday is undermining the forces of democracy in the East African nation, while also aiding and promoting corruption and human rights abuses.

The loan is to be disbursed over time, beginning with an immediate infusion of $258 million according to a press release from the bank, so perhaps there’s still time to restore sanity to the process.  

The money, in addition to shoring up Uganda’s economy which has retrenched due to the Covid-19 disruptions is also meant to fight the pandemic. It’s true that Uganda, like most African countries has been severely negatively impacted by Covid-19. However, the main constraint in fighting the disease has been corruption, which goes up all the way to the country’s dictator Gen. Yoweri Museveni. 

Even the IMF in its own press release admits it knows the Ugandan dictator and his close senior associates are thieves. The Fund states: “Advancing governance reforms remains crucial to support transparency and private sector development. The authorities have made progress in publishing information on audits and the use of COVID-19 funds, but further work is necessary to enhance the AML/CFT framework and strengthen the accountability of high-level officials.”

Any major program to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in a country where corruption is national policy, as in Uganda, must be coordinated through the World Health Organization (WHO). Sending money to Gen. Museveni ensures that the disease will continue to spread, since the money will be embezzled or diverted. 

This is cruelty on the part of the IMF which is fully aware that Gen. Museveni, dictator of Uganda for 35 years now, is a thief. It is also immoral for the IMF to encumber Ugandan citizens, now and in the futre, with a $1 billion debt--the country already has external debt totaling about $15 billion with no means of repayment. The IMF talks of future proceeds of oil sales when the country hasn't started production and fossil fuels are becoming things of the past. 

Last year the IMF loaned $491 million to the Museveni regime to fight the pandemic. A substantial amount was diverted or embezzled.  

The World Bank, the IMF’s sister institution, loaned Gen. Museveni’s regime $300 million last year to fight the pandemic. That money was also reportedly diverted into a classified account accessed only by dictator Museveni’s office, the military, and the police force. These armed forces violently attacked opposition party leaders and their supporters heading into the January 14, 2021 presidential election which was stolen by Gen. Museveni. 

Finally, the IMF’s Board is aware that a U.S. District Court trial confirmed unequivocally that Gen. Museveni is a thief. 

On December 5, 2018, a Chinese national named Chi Ping Patrick Ho was convicted in U.S. District Court in New York for bribing Museveni and his foreign minister Sam Kutesa $1 million. More benefits were to come, the court found. The bribe was for concessions in Uganda’s oil industry and other businesses. Kutesa’s cut of the bribe was wired from a bank in New York, giving the U.S. jurisdiction over the case. Gen. Museveni’s $500,000 share was delivered in cash Mafia-style aboard a Gulfstream jet when Patrick Ho attended the dictator’s swearing in after he stole an earlier election, in 2016. 

Judge Loretta Preske of the Southern District, who presided over the trial, spoke about how damaging corruption is for developing countries. Now here we have the IMF and the World Bank, two global lending institutions whose contributions come primarily from the U.S., aiding and abetting the very corruption that the Justice Department fought when it secured a conviction of Ho.

The $300 million loan from the World Bank and the $491 million from the IMF helped fund the violent crushing of the forces of democracy in Uganda under the guise of fighting the pandemic. 

The armed forces committed a massacre of civilians on November 18 and 19, 2021. The people were protesting the arrest of Member of Parliament, Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a. Bobi Wine, the presumptive winner of the January 14, 2021 vote. Also attacked was Patrick Amuriat, the leader of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), another opposition party, and his supporters.

The election rigging by Museveni, the World Bank and IMF-funded dictator was so blatant that the European Union (EU) Parliament voted 632 to 15 to impose Global Magnitsky sanctions which includes asset freezing against Ugandan political and military actors involved in the violence and theft. 

Similarly, the Biden Administration dismissed the vote with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on April 16, 2021 saying the election was “neither free, nor fair.”  This in effect means the U.S. does not regard Gen. Museveni as the legitimate president of Uganda. The U.S. placed visa restrictions on Uganda regime officials. The names weren’t disclosed but Ugandans hope Museveni himself is on the list. 

Bobi Wine is critical of the IMF loan. “The position of all democracy seeking forces in Uganda and all moral souls in the world is we are against it. First of all it’s wrong for those loans to be extended to an illegitimate regime,” Bobi Wine told this publication. “The regime in Uganda is illegitimate. Not only according to Ugandans but according to the U.S. State Department and the European Union.”

“So giving that money to an illegitimate regime is wrong,” he added. “But not only that there is no accountability, there is no rule of law, there is no respect for human rights. Our call has always been make respect for human rights, respect for the rule of law, and respect for democratic principles as a precondition for cooperation with Uganda.”