A lot has been written about former Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi’s secret ties with the People’s Republic of China.
Speculation also made rounds saying Mbabazi had got billions of cash for his presidential campaign vis-avis a business empire.
This is what Ugandan ambassador to China, HE Charles Madibo Wagidoso, told us in an interview.
QN: There has been talk that Uganda and China ties have been strained ever since the President fired Mbabazi.
AMB: Well, not at all, the relationship between Uganda and China hinges on two main pillars which are historical relations between the two countries and president Museveni himself with China. Therefore, the issue of Mbabazi’s departure is inconsequential and had no effect at all.
QN: So far, how is the relationship between the president and the Chinese government?
AMB. The Chinese government does not fight governments in power in all countries that they work with. The Chinese government and the people of China respect president Museveni a lot.
The city of Beijing has a population of over 22 million people and over 5 million cars. For the last nine years I have been in Beijing, it is only president Museveni who comes to Beijing and the traffic police closes all the roads and cars are stopped whenever he is being received from the airport. He gets a warm welcome.
QN: Mr. Ambassador, there are also reports that Mbabazi has always had secret deals with big construction companies from China to Uganda and that he gained a lot from them.
AMB: In China, all big construction companies you see here are owned by the government of China and are financed by the EXIM bank which is also owned by the government. Therefore, the ties are government to government not individuals because they choose from government companies.
The corruption is low at operational level and the fight is only here in Uganda where they use different government agencies which Mbabazi could have had a hand in using the police, PPDA, IGG, courts and parliament in awarding tenders internally.
These companies are given capital and their performances is measured yearly because of the returns to the government thus they have to fight for tenders themselves worldwide and all the heads of these companies are staunch members of the China ruling government
QN: There are also reports that Amama Mbabazi has gotten billions of money for campaign funds from both government and the Chinese businessmen.
AMB: It is absolutely a pure lie. The people giving that information are not conversant with how the Chinese people behave.
The Chinese government I told you does not support the opposition in countries they have ties with. The Chinese relations are only economical and not political. They mind about trade relations and nothing else.
QN: What about that shortly after he was sacked as PM he came to China for the holiday where he was meeting his funders and other government officials.
AMB: That is not true that he was in China. In China if a foreign dignitary whether in government or retired from government wants to visit, you are first issued with Visa with approval from the state council of China.
You cannot come on a private visit because the government has to provide you with security as long as you’re a dignitary and at least three officials from your embassy must be present to receive you.
In china there is no privacy for visiting dignitaries because of the hostility they have from western countries. You must involve the participation from all stakeholders involved. Even if you are meeting friends the government must have representatives.
There was no way Mbabazi could come to China before getting clearance from the Foreign affairs ministry which also notifies the embassy.
QN: There has been a rumor that Amama Mbabazi owns half a street in Beijing. How true is this?
AMB: It is not true that he owns property in China because in China to buy land you must be a resident in China for at least a year and his son Mao Kamugisha who was staying in Shanghai town over 1500km away from Beijing also left about three years and is now in Kampala.
Even if you are to buy land or property in China when you’re a foreigner you have to buy only one and above all there are so many multi-billionaire Chinese people but the government is also encouraging them to invest abroad.
Unless if he bought that half a street in the names of a Chinese company which is registered.
QN: So how many times did Mbabazi visit China?
AMB. He visited china in 2008, 2011 and 2012 and when he was the NRM secretary general he came and met with the CCP party leaders but he was at low rank and we all attended those meetings when he was the prime minister in 2012 though he was under looking us. The ties between Mbabazi and China have been hyped for political gains but it is not there.
QN: There have also been rumors that Mbabazi is using a Chinese ICT company which once supplied EC with ICT materials to steal president Museveni’s votes using his tally center.
AMB. Well, I have never received any call from EC about any Chinese company supplying ICT material to EC.
QN: Slight a bit why do we have a lot of shoddy works in Uganda by these Chinese companies providing services to us?
AMB. The problem is with our own technical people who want to choose services because instead of telling contractors to give those best services some even want to fly to China to choose for deal cutting.
The Chinese are warm welcoming people and have too much respect. When these officials fly to china and choose materials of low quality, Chinese find it a problem in challenging them which ends up in shoddy work.
QN: Last but not least, we have heard of fighting and even witch crafts within our foreign missions what is the problem?
AMB: The fighting is because of Godfathers in the deployments of these officials in the missions.
You find that the head of the mission assigns his juniors work but they don’t want to do it because of their God fathers and at the end of the day the country fails to achieve its foreign missions and some fight to bring you down.
The problem with the Ugandan mission system is that the head of mission has no powers to punish unruly officials but only reports to the ministry back home unlike in other countries where the head has powers over the mission which has led to some Ugandan officials turning big-headed.
QN: Finally what is your prediction in the forthcoming presidential elections slated for February 18?
AMB. President Musevni will win thoroughly. Leave this shouting by the minority urban vocalists . The president is entrenched in the rural communities who are the majority voters.