Playing Santa

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni hands out $100K in a sack full of cash

April 23, 2013
April 23, 2013

BIc2y5iCEAEy0v5Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni handed over a plain white sack  containing a personal cash donation of 250 million shillings ($100,000) to a local youth group.

The donation (which also included a truck and 15 motorbikes for good measure) was broadcast on national television and soon went viral on YouTube and Twitter, where Museveni quickly became a target of scorn from those who questioned the money’s provenance and how it would be spent.

“Why is Museveni spending money willy-nilly when some public employees go without pay for months?” asked @Mulemeezi. @asiimwe4justice remarked, “Hand outs hinder us from asking the hard questions about the state of our nation.” @dalisochaponda, referencing a recent government crackdown, wrote: “Ugandan Monopoly: ‘President hands you #sackofmoney; collect 100000′; ‘You have been caught in a miniskirt, go to jail, do not pass go.'”

The bizarre episode highlighted the concerns of Museveni’s critics, who have criticized the president’s autocratic rule. When the president extended his 25 years in office in the country’s 2011 elections, EU observers noted that “the distribution of money and gifts by candidates, especially from the ruling party, had been widely observed.”

Judging by his past record, the Ugandan president is clearly fond of cutting out the middleman. In August last year, reports emerged that the Uganda Journalists’ Association was under investigation by anti-corruption offices for misspending a 150 million shilling ($58,700) cash donation from Museveni.

In 2010, the president chastised Christians for pretending to be poor and donating too little while he handed over 50 million shillings ($20,000) in cash to the St. Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe for renovations, according to local media. The bishop, Wilberforce Luwalira, received a new four-wheel drive to help him get around the community.

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