CHOGM Alienated Museveni from Ugandans

Published on 21st December 2007

Why did Uganda host CHOGM? Did Uganda get any value for this huge investment? What did Uganda market to the world during this event?


Sources have it that Uganda spent a whooping 1.4 billion shillings to a British firm to have CHOGM held in Uganda. This explains the hurry, day long road works, diverted traffic, and all the inconveniences that prevailed before the event. This also means Uganda did not merit hosting this event.


There was a general misconception on the part of Ugandans on what hosting CHOGM entailed and meant. A majority of Ugandans believed that hosting CHOGM meant diverting world attention to Uganda hence the advertisement “1.6 Billion Eyes on Uganda”. Little did they understand that venue did not automatically translate to centre of attention. We took the summit (especially the comfort and hospitality to the delegates) too seriously until we forgot any other business that would have made the event more valuable to us. CHOGM was not really a big deal. It was just another event where big guys agree on issues they will never implement.


The media underwent appalling experiences ranging from cold showers in their rooms, climbing stairs up to the 14th floor and denial to speak to their own presidents. The international spotlight shifted to the unexpected. The Sky News highlighted the queen shaking hands with HIV/AIDS children at Mildmay centre, a British institution that caters for children infected and affected by the disease. This merely drew more sympathy and brought cold chills on potential investors.

Our local media did not do any better. Uganda Broadcasting Corporation, the only privileged broadcaster of CHOGM, suddenly went dark in the middle of the queen’s speech in parliament and started showing school children screaming out some funny song. The station’s bosses were fired. At least someone saw that embarrassment.


Then came the issue of who was on the driving seat at the business meetings. Ugandans, who paid US$500 each to be at the business forum were at a loss regrding marketing their businesss. Only President Paul Kagame of Rwanda knew where to concentrate. He took over the business forum and glued its focus on his country. He even camped at Sheraton Hotel and met the international business community. Rwanda was armed with a brochure which had a list of its businessmen, what they do and what they expected from the event. Uganda’s businesses, mostly run by politicians and the state, were too busy perfecting the art of hospitality that they forgot their core business. Interestingly, Uganda’s oil discussion was the most attended mainly by British and Western oil corporations. Still, Uganda was not on the driving seat either.


I commend the state for convincing the world that it can host a high calibre event. If Uganda was as efficient in the infrastructural and road repairs like it was during CHOGM, it would be one of the most organised countries. One is however forced to ask why when Ugandans need rescue, money is not available for that purpose but when it benefits big shots in government, the money magically appears. Does this mean that for something tangible to happen in Uganda, Western nations should be implored?


The police trainers in Masindi, together with the admired convoy escorts have gone for four months without salary and are operating on empty stomachs. Local labourers who helped to keep the city clean before and after CHOGM have not been paid a cent for their hard work.

As African states continue to look to court the West or East for aid, there will be more disconnect between them and their people. It is time that African governments stopped reading foreign scripts and became accountable to their electorate.

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