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March 16, 2005

Comments

Jim

"it takes no great talent to spend large amounts of money on "education" or some other lofty goal by marking up the prices of the required inputs by astronomical sums, and rewarding the contracts for them to suitable cronies."

You have just identified the payoff that motivates all this lending and debt relief that enables continued lending. Pimps routinely get theier prostitutes addicted to something they can provide more easily than anyone else, and then they can get down to extracting their profits.

Nicholas Weininger

I know this is a newbie question, but: why aren't countries that receive debt cancellation/relief/whatever blacklisted by financial markets just as if they'd defaulted? If I'm a holder of a Ugandan bond, what does it matter to me whether Uganda is "forgiven" its debts or defaults on them? Do I get compensation in the former case from the "forgiving" country or agency, or what?

dsquared

Uganda has basically no private sector creditors, apart from short-term self-liquidating trade credits. Its external debts are almost entirely government-to-government or multilateral.


Museweni's article is highly misleading and self-serving; I noticed the following points.

1. The reason why Uganda qualified for HIPC a second time in 2004 is that "sustainability" for the purposes of HIPC is measured by the debt to exports ratio. Uganda is mainly an exporter of basic commodities, and although they rose rapidly in 2004, commodity prices are still much lower than they were in 2000. In debt-to-GDP terms, Uganda is much better off than it was.

2. It is unbelievably misleading to call Uganda's operations against the Lord's Resistance Army bases in Sudan "military adventures". The LRA are an incredibly nasty terrorist group, quite as bad as the Janjaweed.

3. It is also similarly misleading to talk about the change in the poverty rate between 2000 and 2003 without noting that the actual increase in poverty is located in the north of the country, in the region bordering Sudan, where there was a war on in 2003. The population of Uganda is 21 million, and there were 1.4 million people displaced by the 2002-3 conflict in northern Uganda. Presumably all of these people became poor.

and so on ... I find the assertion that "agitators for debt reform never trouble to ask themselves" whether the structural adjustment programmes of the 1990s worked to be absolutely bizarre; it is a cornerstone of the debt relief community that they didn't.

Africa is not short of locals who can be relied upon to tell American rightwingers that everything is the fault of corrupt blacks (and by the way, I note that Museweni, probably because he realises what the readers of allafrica would know to be ridiculous, doesn't make Abiola's perennial crack about offshore banking). They're not poor deluded natives, but that doesn't mean that we should let them get away with meretricious crap like this. Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Abiola Lapite

"Museweni's article is highly misleading and self-serving"

It's one thing to say it's "misleading", but how exactly is it "self-serving?" It's not as if he's defending himself against charges, is it?

"I find the assertion that "agitators for debt reform never trouble to ask themselves" whether the structural adjustment programmes of the 1990s worked to be absolutely bizarre; it is a cornerstone of the debt relief community that they didn't."

But that isn't the question I said they never ask themselves. To repeat:

"Assume Uganda were a company: how can it borrow, then report "successful restructuring" leading to "sustained expansion of the business" but be unable to pay its debts?"

If an economy is growing robustly, and the interest rates on the government's loans are low, then it ought to be more than possible to finance its debts while meeting other needs; this is simple arithmetic.

"Africa is not short of locals who can be relied upon to tell American rightwingers that everything is the fault of corrupt blacks"

Europe is not short of locals who can be relied upon to insinuate that Africans who disagree with their leftwing views must be shills for American rightwingers. What a ridiculous ad hominem; are you going to start calling us all "sellouts" and "Uncle Toms" next? Are you trying to imply that corruption is NOT one of the biggest problems facing Africa, and that corrupt, incompetent leaders are NOT to blame for fuckups everywhere from Ghana to Nigeria to Angola to Tanzania? I suppose all the Africans at home and abroad cursing their leaders must be shills in the pay of AEI, right? Your statements are as stupid as they are insulting.

"and by the way, I note that Museweni, probably because he realises what the readers of allafrica would know to be ridiculous, doesn't make Abiola's perennial crack about offshore banking"

If it's so ridiculous, tell us where exactly the funds of people like Salinas, Marcos, Mobutu, Suharto and Abacha were traced to. The only one being ridiculous here is YOU, for denying the blindingly obvious; big-time money laundering for criminals and despots is concentrated in havens like Andorra, the Caymans, Guernsey, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Switzerland and so on. How can you claim to be in the financial sector and not know something so transparently true?

"They're not poor deluded natives, but that doesn't mean that we should let them get away with meretricious crap like this. Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations."

This is simply hilarious coming from you. It takes real cojones to presume to know local conditions better than most of the locals themselves, and the fact is that pretty much all the Ugandans I know paint a picture of domestic affairs in their country far closer to Mweni's than your rosy projections. It's easy to hold up Museveni as some sort of saint being hard done by in the writings of shills for "American rightwingers", but to do so against the criticisms of locals who have to live under the man is the height of hubris; to then accuse such critics of being shills for foreigners shows you up as an arrogant ideologue.

Abiola Lapite

By the way, as for your attempt to dismiss Mweni's criticism of Museveni's military spending out of hand, try dismissing the following, courtesy of the BBC:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3526275.stm

["President Museveni acknowledges some corruption - with senior officials now under investigation for allegedly pocketing the wages of thousands of non-existent "ghost soldiers".

But he denies it has affected the army's performance.

His critics are less confident.

They claim the corruption has, at the very least, seriously undermined morale among the troops, and point to the army's recent failure to protect civilians from a massacre 10 days ago just north of the town of Lira - a failure blamed on a series of basic tactical errors by the military.

Which is why, last week, thousands of civilians marched through Lira to show their anger with the Ugandan military."]

Boy, these American rightwingers sure do get around, don't they? They not only recruit a guy writing for a Kampala based newspaper to write what they want to hear (who knew Grover Norquist religiously read "The Monitor"?), but then up their dirty tricks by roping thousands of Ugandan civilians out onto the streets against Museveni's sainted army: what a diabolical lot! Next thing you know, some UN shills for the American rightwing might even suggest that the Ugandan army's presence was a - gasp! - looting adventure

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/africa/newsid_1303000/1303351.stm

while BBC shills might even start saying that Museveni was still extricating his troops from his Congo adventure as late as 2002 ...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/2222051.stm

Cheeky, aren't they, all these shills? Ubiquitous too.

dsquared

[What a ridiculous ad hominem; are you going to start calling us all "sellouts" and "Uncle Toms" next?]

Depends. Are you all going to try to get away with reporting poverty figures without mentioning wars?

[If it's so ridiculous, tell us where exactly the funds of people like Salinas, Marcos, Mobutu, Suharto and Abacha were traced to]

Don't know. I'm pretty sure, however, that it wasn't Uganda.

[By the way, as for your attempt to dismiss Mweni's criticism of Museveni's military spending out of hand]

... never made one, mate. My criticism was of the description of the attacks on LRA camps in southern Sudan as an "adventure", which they weren't. I have no particular opinion on whether this non-adventure self-defence operation was conducted competently, let alone about more general questions of the Ugandan army. For someone who demands to be read with the utmost of interpretative charity himself, you aren't half keen on putting words in people's mouths.

[This is simply hilarious coming from you]

How much do you know about me, Abiola? Specifically, how much do you know about me and East Africa? You know, East Africa - you can't miss it, it's just on the other side of Africa from Nigeria.

[than your rosy projections]

what projections? As far as I can see, the only "projections" here are your projections of the image in your head of a leftwing strawman , onto me.

Timothy Burke

Just on the military adventures point: Mweni is surely referring here not to operations against the LRA, but to fairly extensive involvement by the Ugandan military in the Congo civil war between 1998 and 2003, and the expansion of the Ugandan military that involvement required.

dsquared

But these don't match up at all well on a timeline to HIPC?

Timothy Burke

Huh? It matches perfectly: the original HIPC was 1998, enhanced 2000. Direct Ugandan involvement in the Congo civil war began in a serious way in 1999, and ramped up again big time in 2000-01. Withdrawal came in 2003. I'll go off and look to make sure I'm right about this, but that's my sense of it.

dsquared

I have HIPC agreed in 1998 (thus starting to contribute in 1999) and DRC involvement starting in the same year. If you're right then fair enough; though I still regard the point about poverty rates as very dodgy.

erin

this is it.

erin

this is a good article for the project.

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