Aston Kajara, Minister of Finance for Privatisation
It’s been revealed that the Ugandan government spent millions in a bid to clean up its image following the enactment of the country’s anti-homosexuality law last year.
According to the Ugandan media, the ministry of foreign affairs paid US public relations firm Scribe Strategies and Advisors 614 million Ugandan Shillings (R2,440,400 / $206,039).
The firm was tasked with improving the country’s image in the US after it was tarnished by the passage of the draconian law; condemned around the world as a human rights outrage.
The Observer reported that some MPs have refused to approve the expense, arguing that it was a waste of taxpayers’ money, especially in light of the law’s apparent wide support among Ugandans.
MP Florence Nebanda stated: “It’s quite unbelievable that the ministry of foreign affairs could use this money to clear Uganda’s image, yet us as Ugandans we are against this issue of homosexuality.”
Aston Kajara, the Minister of Finance for Privatisation, was forced to defend the expenditure to MPs in the House Budget Committee.
“I remember that the president [Yoweri Museveni] was [visiting] the US and there were [negative] campaigns against the government of Uganda to the extent that even the hotel they had booked for him had to change and we engaged consultants to intervene and stem the hostility against the president on behalf of Uganda,” he said.
While the law was eventually annulled by the courts on procedural grounds in August 2014, MPs plan to introduce a harsh new bill to replace the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
Previous colonial-era legislation criminalising gay sex remains in force in Uganda, allowing the state to imprison anyone found guilty for life.