Ugandans are lazy, Museveni tells S.African business community

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has told the South African business community, while pitching trade opportunities in Uganda, that the citizens he has led for nearly three decades are lazy.

“… we at the equator … we have two rainy seasons – that is why these Ugandans are lazy…  because life is very easy for them. You don’t have to work very hard. Even a fool can survive in Uganda,” Mr Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, told a powerful business and ministerial team.

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.

According 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 the regional and international levels, including in firms owned by South African companies.

President Museveni, 78, visited South Africa to strengthen trade and ties between the countries. The trade volumes between them have been dropping, with more than 34 giant South African firms leaving Uganda due to insufficient market opportunities. Only 36 South African firms are remain in the East African country.

President Museveni used the same platform to ask South African investors to consider Uganda’s agro-based industry. President Ramaphosa responde said he is interested in investing in irrigation in Uganda.

Between 2017 and 2021, the trade volumee between the two countries reached a peak of $162 million.

South Africa’s exports to 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 using militias to protect the people, something which the Congolese government opposed.

“In Eastern DRC, we intervened with our army 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’ve got something evil you are doing?”

He said he and DRC President Felix Tshisekedi discussed whether to work with them, as freedom fighters, or work with colonalists.

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.