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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

US/Africa: Show Us the Money!

Africa Policy E-Journal
July 9, 2003 (030709)

US/Africa: Show Us the Money!
(Reposted from sources cited below)

According to a July 8 Reuters story from Goree Island after President Bush's brief visit there, local residents were outraged as they were removed from their homes and taken to a football stadium on the other side of the island until the presidential party had left. "It's humiliating. The whole island was deserted," one resident told the Reuters reporter, who noted that on the normally bustling island, the only people to be seen were U.S. officials and secret service agents.

It remains to be seen whether the President will have any more opportunity to listen to non-official African voices on other stops, but civil society groups around the continent are speaking out with challenging questions. This posting contains (1) a joint letter from several continent-wide groups and South Africa's Congress of South African Trade Unions, (2) two short notes with comments from Ugandan activists, and (3) a letter from medical professionals focused on questions about the president's AIDS initiative.

+++++++++++++++++end summary/introduction+++++++++++++++++++++++

President George Walker Bush
President, United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C.

July 7, 2003

Dear President Bush:

As your plane touches down in Dakar, Senegal, we welcome the opportunity of your visit to examine the US Africa relationship and to establish ties that are based on honesty, respect and a clear commitment to removing the structural obstacles that impede Africa's development. We would like to raise the following issues for your consideration. They are not new ones, but there is an opportunity, with your visit, to act decisively and change the image and relationship of your Administration with Africa.

The proposed visit to five African countries has been scheduled to clash with the Second Heads of Summit meeting in Maputo, Mozambique. It is unclear how the Administration could be so out of step with African continental institutions by not seeking to attend this important meeting. As arranged, the trip will rather serve as a distraction to the African Union meeting.

We notice that your planning team has omitted those countries like Tanzania and Kenya that have directly suffered from terrorist attacks against US interests and citizens. This is odd given the tremendous cost that these countries have borne and continue to bear as a result of their relationship with the US. Furthermore, the highly selective programme excludes civil society and the business communities who could have offered constructive and prepositional conversation around US foreign policy, aid and trade. As constructed, the agenda appears to offer little else than a series of photo opportunities starting with Goree Island and ending in a Ugandan AIDS clinic with shots of our Presidents in between.

This trip may boost the Republican campaign image among the African-American community before elections. However, it does very little to boost confidence on the continent that this is a working visit that will afford time and space for Africans to share their aspirations and engage the Administration on the need for the US to change its policies and practices toward Africa.

There is still time though should you choose to act on the substantive issues we raise below.

  • Delivery not spin on HIV/AIDS is needed:

Two thirds of the 25 million people who have died are Africans. In Zimbabwe alone, more than 3000 people are dying each week from the disease. There is no doubt this is one of the gravest issues confronting the continent, yet the Global Health Fund is short on resources. While welcoming the public pledge of US$15 billion to a unilateral US Global AIDS programmes, we note your Administration's request for 2004 is a miserly $450 million. Mr. Bush, where is the $15 Billion that you have promised to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean? Show us the money!

The quality of US health programmes have suffered from the reliance on patented drugs and the restriction of health programmes that promote abstinence from sex rather than safe sex. We call on you to heed the demand of African leaders and women's organisations for a change in these policies and those promoting health cut backs. The demand for the right to import and manufacture generic drugs is a moral imperative. This trip would be an opportunity to express your support for Africans to access cheap generic drugs and to promote women's rights to control their own fertility.

  • Decrease uni-lateral militarisation, facilitate regional peace-keeping:

Several African conflicts are leading to the deaths, displacement and impoverishment of millions of African women, men and children. African leaders have tried individually and collectively to respond to these conflicts despite the debilitating effects of structural adjustment policies (which the US supports) and debt servicing.

The US needs to provide adequate logistical and financial support for peacekeeping, peacemaking and peace-building in Sudan, Liberia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Burundi. It can do this through cooperation and collaboration with existing efforts such as the ECOWAS-sponsored peace conference in Liberia, the South African-led peace efforts in Burundi and the United Nations and French-led operations in the DRC.

At the same time, civil society organizations in Africa would like to register their unequivocal opposition to the further militarisation of the continent by the proposed setting up of new military bases in Africa as well as the expansion of others, i.e. Djibouti. We are not unmindful of the past US military role in Africa. In fact a number of Africa's civil wars are products of US military support, including Liberia, the DRC, and the recently ended Angolan war. The move to militarize the continent cannot be justified by US economic interests in our oil or in protecting Africa from terrorism.

We call on the US to roll back the current plans to create "forward operating bases" on African soil and desist from promoting bi-lateral agreements that exempt both US and African citizens from prosecution under the International Criminal Court. With great power comes responsibility for one's actions. This should also apply to the US.

  • Why is Iraq's debt different from Africa's?:

It has long been established that Africa's debt burden is a major obstacle to Africa's development objectives. The servicing of Africa's debt has made it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the continent to invest in the productive sector, health and education.

Mr. Bush, will you announce US support for the unconditional cancellation of Africa's debt while in Africa? If Iraqi's debt can be cancelled, then surely there is nothing to stop you from doing the same for Africa.

  • Dumping is not Fair Trade:

In your pre-visit media briefings, you made reference to free trade and AGOA as a panacea for Africa's economic woes, yet your Administration practices protectionist policies, offers tremendous subsidies and is aggressively promoting patents on all living and non-living resources. Agriculture is Africa's competitive advantage and the only form of livelihood for 70% of its population. Africa's poverty is the direct consequence of the inability to export agricultural commodities at fair prices and to access US technologies.

We call on you to announce a moratorium on subsidies to US farmers, desist from championing risky GM products and to take measures that will enhance market access for Africa's agricultural products.

  • Democracy is a principle, not a matter of expediency:

African people across the continent are establishing and holding accountable democratic governments. In these cases, US support like elsewhere in the world is welcome. The practice of externally induced "regime change" as we have seen in the recent past is not welcome. Africans reserve the right to elect and/or recall their leaders through democratic processes. We view with deep concern, the pressure that is placed on African Governments to adopt laws that contravene national constitutions and to act in a manner that strips their citizens or residents of their fundamental freedoms and access to the rule of law such as the recent case of four Moslems in Malawi suspected of being linked to Al Qaeda. This divides Africa along racial and religious lines.

We would have liked an opportunity to express these thoughts more directly and hear your responses. However we note with concern that the space for civil society in the US to comment on and/or critique your administration policies has shrunk considerably. We are not surprised that civil society in Africa as well did not feature in your itinerary.

We deeply share the pain and suffering of Americans resulting from September 11 events and the sense of urgency to bring this insecurity to an end. However, we think that US-Africa relations cannot not be driven by the US War Against Terrorism or US interests in Africa as an emerging market or as supplier of 15% of US oil.

We make these appeals because we believe there are obligations that come with being the world's only super power. Furthermore, the people of the US and Africa have a history that is intertwined. Crimes against African humanity were conducted during slavery and during the cold war. In that sense the US has an ethical burden to act in ways that exude justice, human rights and a genuine respect for democracy. We ask not for charity, we seek justice. We look to your trip to to act decisively and change the image and relationship of your Administration with Africa.

Yours truly:

Helen Wangusa
Coordinator, African Women Empowerment Network (AWEPON), Uganda

Patrick Craven
Congress of South African Trade Unions,
South Africa

Muthoni Wanyeki
Executive Director
African Women Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), Kenya

Oduor Ong'wen
Director, Econews Africa, Kenya

Ezra Mbogori
Executive Director, Mwelekeo wa NGO (MWENGO), Zimbabwe

c.c. Hon. Colin Powell, Secretary of State,
Hon. Andrew Natsios, Administrator, USAID.

Endorsed by:

Emira Woods
Co-Director, Foreign Policy in Focus/Institute for Policy Studies, US

Salih Booker
Executive Director, AfricaAction, US

Bill Fletcher
President, Transafrica, US

Leon Spencer
Executive Director, Washington Office on Africa, US

Njoki Njoroge Njehu
Director, 50 Years Is Enough: U.S. Network for Global Economic Justice, US

Kumi Naidoo,
Secretary General,
CIVICUS Citizens World Alliance, South Africa

Tuesday, July 8th, 2003 - The Monitor - Kampala, Uganda

Activist dares Bush on AIDS

By Carolyne Nakazibwe

Renowned HIV/AIDS activist, Ms. Milly Katana, has challenged President George W. Bush, who is visiting Africa, to leave behind a signed cheque of $3 billion to fight the pandemic worldwide.

Katana, from the Health Rights Action Group - Uganda, asked Bush to fulfil the many promises to US government has made.

She said in an email to The Monitor on Friday from Yaounde (Cameroon), that President Yoweri Museveni needs $63 million (Shs 125.4 billion) per year to treat persons living with HIV and to stop preventable deaths.

"Therefore, if President Museveni got a cheque, or a firm promissory note of $315 million, he would be able to disable the [HIV] that is just ready to grow into another [AIDS] epidemic in a country that is celebrated for having conquered AIDS," Katana said.

She said that during his stop-over at Entebbe on Friday, Bush should be clear about the $3 billion needed to fight AIDS worldwide in 2004 and the need to inject more money into the Global Find to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

Bush will meet with President Museveni during his four hour visit to Uganda this Friday, as part of his first official tour of Africa.

According to the State Department Website, AIDS is top on Bush's agenda in Uganda.

The Uganda Coalition for Access To Essential Medicines


contact: Rosette Mutambi /
+ 256 41 270 970 / mobile +256 77 484 075
Rob Mealey <rmealey@SMCVT.EDU>

8th July 2003

Coalition on Affordable Medicines to Question Bush

The Uganda Coalition for Access To Essential Medicines invites members of the press and other interested parties to join us in the Green Room at the National Theatre from 10am to 11am on Thursday July 10th 2003. Members of the Coalition will be gathered to raise some questions relating US President George W. Bush's plans to spend US$15 billion fighting HIV/AIDS.

President Bush, who will be in Uganda for four hours on Friday, has put Uganda forward as the African exemplar in the fight against HIV/AIDS. As far as prevention work is concerned, we agree Uganda is a leading example. However President Bush, in his State of the Union Address this January spoke of doctors turning away patients because they had no medicines or money to purchase them. He spoke of people dying because they could afford the most basic of prophylactic medicines. He was speaking not about prevention there but about access to essential medicines. In Uganda only 10% of people needing lifesaving Anti-retroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS can access them. We hope he is not going to take this an example to follow and we want to know more about how his plans will address this situation.

The speakers will include:

Rosette Mutambi - Coordinator of Uganda Access Coalition Dr. Florence Mahoro - International Forum of People Living with HIV/AIDS Arthur Mpeirwe - Legal Counsel for the Uganda Access Coalition Dr. Lydia Mungherera - Coordinator of the Kampala District Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS and Chair of the AIDS Treatment and Empowerment Initiative

The Uganda Coalition for Access to Essential Medicines is a group of civil society organizations and individuals that have come together to advocate for increased access to essential medicines. The Coalition wishes to raise some serious concerns and questions about the HIV/AIDS policies of US President George W. Bush as he comes to visit our country.

VENUE: Green Room, National Theatre, Kampala TIME: 10am - 11am

Physicians for Human Rights -

Media Contacts: Barbara Ayotte
Tel: 617 695- 0041 ext. 210 (617) 549-0152 mobile Email:

July 7, 2003

As President Bush travels to Africa, leading African health professionals are urging him to take specific steps to combat the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. Joined by 63 American colleagues, 31 African doctors and nurses practicing medicine in the age of AIDS in 13 countries, in a letter to the President, shared their essential concerns including critical medicines, safe health care, earning a decent living and protecting human rights. They suggest ways in which the United States can help support them in their efforts to address monumental needs created by the AIDS crisis.

The letter was coordinated by the Health Action AIDS a project of Physicians for Human Rights. The health professionals work in Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, South Africa, Senegal, Rwanda, Malawi, Kenya, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. (See and for full text of letter and signatories).

"The President needs to step into AIDS-stricken communities, talk to parents and children, and visit home-based care services to see firsthand the devastating toll AIDS is taking on wide swaths of the continent," said Dr. Leana Uys, Chair of South African Nurses in AIDS Care. "Only then will he understand the true meaning of what he said earlier this year, 'never has history offered the opportunity to do so much for so many.'"

The letter underscores the importance of Congress appropriating $3 billion for HIV/AIDS for fiscal year 2004 (including support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria) and the need for the Administration to live up to its commitment of treating 2 million people by 2006 and preventing 7 million new infections. It is signed by leading American AIDS experts such as Allan Rosenfield, MD, of the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; Karen Ivantic-Doucette, MSN, RN, ACRN, of Marquette University College of Nursing and a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS; Joia S. Mukherjee, MD, MPH, Medical Director of Partners In Health and Director of HIV Equity Initiative, Zanmi Lasante; Paul A. Volberding, MD, Professor and Vice-Chair of Medicine, UCSF and Co-Director USCF-GIVI Center for AIDS Research; and Eric Goosby, MD, CEO, Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation. Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, MD, also signed the letter.

In addition to calling for the Bush initiative to fund essential medicines including anti-retroviral drugs, the letter calls on the President to help address the needs of the AIDS crisis by:

  • Training doctors and nurses and other health workers how to properly administer and monitor AIDS medication
  • Providing logistical management support to ensure that facilities are adequately stocked with supplies, health care workers adhere to proper practices and resources are allocated properly
  • Promoting safe health care, including injection safety and universal precautions for health care workers so that they can protect themselves. Basic supplies like gloves and single-use syringes, better training, and proper ways to dispose of used syringes and needles will go a long way on this front.
  • Providing support so that health care workers can practice medicine to the best of their abilities. For instance, doctors need to earn a decent living so that they can concentrate on their patients rather than on the survival of their families. In addition, medical workers need to have access to adequate facilities where clean water and electricity are in constant supply.
  • Eliciting local, on-the-ground, input in determining how the $15 billion Bush initiative will be spent.
  • Basing the U.S. HIV/AIDS initiative on proven best practices, which is particularly relevant for those in society who are least popular and most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, including street children, sex workers, homosexuals and injecting drug users.
  • Supporting the strengthening of legal systems so that judicial system prosecute rape, sex trafficking, and child prostitution and protect those living with HIV/AIDS from discrimination. Protecting the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS particularly those who are most vulnerable.

The medical leaders ask President Bush to "see people with HIV/AIDS as we see them. We hope that you will see the whole person, a person whose needs extend far beyond the narrow scope of anti-retroviral medications and HIV prevention messages, a person who also needs adequate nutrition and clean water, health and education, hope for the future."

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Date distributed (ymd): 030709
Region: Continent-Wide
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+ +security/peace+ +US policy focus+

The Africa Action E-Journal is a free information service provided by Africa Action, including both original commentary and reposted documents. Africa Action provides this information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and the full spectrum of human rights.

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