President Museveni has told the South African business community to whom he was pitching trade opportunities in Uganda that the citizens he has led for nearly three decades are lazy.
Mr Museveni, who was in a meeting with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria, said a friendly environment in Uganda doesn’t need someone to work harder.
The meeting was aired on SABC TV, a South African public broadcaster.
President Museveni’s comments were followed by verbal expressions of wonder by his hosts, including President Ramaphosa. In his foreign and local engagements, Mr Museveni has consistently, without statistical proof, accused Ugandans of being lazy in front of their business competitors.
to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Ugandans rank highest among the most entrepreneurial people in the world.
Ugandans have also emerged leaders in several disciplines at regional and international level, including in firms owned by South African companies.
President Museveni, 78, visited South Africa to strengthen trade and bilateral ties between the two countries. The trade volumes between the two countries have been dropping. Over 34 giant South African firms left Uganda due to low market opportunities. Only 36 South African firms are still remaining in Uganda.
President Museveni used the same platform to ask South African investors to come to Uganda and invest in agro-based industry to which President Ramaphosa responded and said he is interested in investing in irrigation in Uganda.
Uganda is South Africa’s 15th-largest trading partner in Africa and the second largest in East Africa, according to South African government figures.
Between 2017 and 2021 total trade between the two countries reached a peak of $162 million.
South Africa’s exports to the Republic of Uganda amounted to $169 million in 2018, while its imports from Uganda increased from $6.8 million in 2017 to $17.5 million in 2020.
On the issue of insecurity in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, President Museveni said Uganda suggested to Congolese leaders to establish militias to protect the people, which the Congolese government turned down.
“In Eastern DRC, we gave intervened with our army to help them. But there is what we can’t do. It can only be done by the locals – to build an army, to build a militia force. They fear a militia force.When we say build a militia force, they say it will turn against us,” President Museveni said. “How will a militia turn against you? The militias are defending themselves against terrorists. Why would they be against you unless you got something evil you are doing?”
He said he had a chat with DRC President Felix Tshisekedi to take a side whether to work with them, as freedom fighters, or work with colonialists.
In 2021, Uganda sent over 4,000 troops in Eastern DRC to fight Ugandan rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces, who have camped in the region for decades.
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