Stop raising cash for Africa, Ugandan reporter appeals

A Ugandan journalist jailed for criticising his government has called on British newspapers to scrap reader appeals asking for cash and give more perspective to their coverage of Africa.

Andrew Mwenda, political editor of Uganda's Kampala-based Daily Monitor and reporter for KFM Radio, spoke this month at a seminar for the International Policy Network think-tank in London, claiming that aid given to Africa from the West had been a "disaster".

Speaking to Press Gazette on his return to Kampala, Mwenda said: "Every newspaper and magazine in Britain — please do not throw more money at African dictators. Giving money to corrupt dictators only lines their pockets and allows them to buy more weapons to kill their own citizens. It does not help the poor."

Mwenda spent three days in jail last year after he accused the Ugandan government of incompetence and negligence, following the death of Sudanese vice-president John Garang in a government helicopter that flew into a storm.

Of his time in jail, Mwenda said: "I believe, for us to be free human beings, we must be willing to sacrifice, and if jail is the price I have to pay for it, then it's a very cheap price."

In past interviews, Mwenda has admitted he would like to become president of Uganda. He told Press Gazette the first thing he would do in power would be to repeal all the anti-media laws in Uganda.

He added: "Journalists in the Western world have a responsibility to give perspective to how they cover Africa. The basic principle of journalism is to tell the truth, but also to give it the right perspective.

In other words, if they come to a country like Uganda and say: ‘Uganda is struggling with a huge debt burden', let them find out how the money was borrowed and where it was put."

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