Inside the state of the art private Gulfstream jet (top photo) of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni that he bought using British foreign aid cash.
A British Member of the European Parliament (MEP) has received unprecedented support from all corners of life after he called upon the British Government to stop dashing out foreign aid to countries whose leaders turn it into personal wealth.
Godfrey Bloom, a MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber for the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) caused a storm within the British political scene when last week he told a meeting in Yorkshire that it was a waste for British foreign aid to go to what he called ‘bongo bongo land’, that is, Third World countries that have diverted British Foreign aid into their own pockets.
In a recording leaked to the London-based Guardian newspaper last month, Mr Bloom was heard saying: “How we can possibly be giving a billion pounds a month when we’re in this sort of debt to ‘bongo bongo’ land is completely beyond me. To buy Ray-Ban sunglasses, apartments in Paris, Ferraris and all the rest of it that goes with most of the foreign aid. F18s for Pakistan. We need a new squadron of F18s. Who’s got the squadrons? Pakistan, where we send the money.’
Description: British politician Alan Clark who coined the term ‘bongo bongo’ land’ to mean corrupt African countries.
British politician Alan Clark who coined the term ‘bongo bongo land’ to mean corrupt African countries.
The phrase ‘bongo bongo land’ was first controversially used by the equally controversial former Tory minister, the late Alan Clark to refer to Africa in the 1980s. During a series of interviews defending his remarks today, Mr Bloom said people in Yorkshire would not think the term ‘bongo bongo land’ was racist because there is no such country.
Asked why he used the term when the majority of the British people would think of it as racist, Mr Bloom told Sky News: “No. They wouldn’t. They might in your Westminster bubble, your little world of Westminster, but out here in Hull and Yorkshire, where we tell it like it is, they don’t feel it is racist at all.
The UKIP leadership believes Mr Bloom was right to speak out about the amount of money Britain spends overseas – equivalent to 0.7 per cent of GDP – but feared the row risked tarnishing the party’s image. UKIP chairman Steve Crowther said: “We are asking Godfrey not to use this phrase again as it might be considered disparaging by members from other countries. However, foreign aid is an extremely important debate that needs wider discussion.”
Description: A brand new Merc displayed by President Museveni during his inauguration early this year after winning a disputed election
A brand new Merc displayed by President Museveni during his inauguration early this year after winning a disputed election
The remarks gave British newspaper a field day in which they queried the enormous wealth some African leaders enjoy at the expense of their own countrymen after turning foreign aid to enrich themselves. Seven African countries likened to ‘bongo bongo land’ by the British press Thursday were Uganda, Rwanda, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Congo Brazzaville, Sierra Leone and South Africa.
The papers said after receiving foreign aid worth £127 million, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni used £30 million of the aid money to buy himself a top of the range Gulfstream private jet. As millions of his people struggled to feed themselves, Museveni lavished the cash on the 562mph plane, described as the ‘world’s most versatile and stylish ultra-long-range jet’.
The then Labour government under the stewardship of then Secretary for International Development, Claire Short, gave Museveni’s poverty ravaged country £70million in 2008/09 through the Department for International Development and an additional £57million through the European Union. Two years later it emerged he was buying six Russian fighter jets for nearly £500million – the same amount as Britain is scheduled to give in aid to Uganda by 2016. Museveni, who has led Uganda since 1986, has been severely criticised for his human rights record.
Description: One of the two private jets owned by Rwandan President Paul Kagame
In similar fashion, Rwanda President Paul Kagame purchased two South African-registered Bombardier BD-700 Global Express private jets and paid £60 million for them using foreign aid the country received from British tax payers. The papers said President Kagame has a weakness for Rolex watches, and in 2011 during one of his frequent visits to the U.S., he allegedly stayed in a £12,000-a-night hotel room in New York – a sum that would take the average Rwandan worker 18 years to earn. Britain is Rwanda’s biggest foreign aid donor and last year was due to hand over £75million. President Kagame has been pictured with British Prime Minister David Cameron, who described the country last year as a ‘continuing success story’. Mr Kagame also owns an opulent palace in the Rwandan capital Kigali and his weekend retreat is a huge farm in the countryside.
In July last year, Britain temporarily suspended £16million of its aid package from Britain to Rwanda following a critical report, but the then International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, a personal friend of Kagame, reinstated the payments on his last day in the job. And in November last year, Britain halted a further £21million in aid payments over human rights concerns.
Gabon President Ali Bongo is said to own 39 properties in the French capital Paris. These include an £85 million mansion and a fleet of expensive British Rolls Royces. Between 2005 and 2009 Britain spent £6.1million on aid to Gabon through international agencies such as the European Union, the World Bank and United Nations.
Description: Teodoro Obiang Nguema’s mansion in Malibu
Equatorial Guinea’s president’s son Teodoro Obiang Mangue is alleged to have used British foreign aid money to purchase a £21 million mansion in the United States and a fleet of expensive foreign sports cars that were impounded last year as part of a corruption enquiry. He is said to have spent £21million on the Malibu mansion, bought a £26million Gulfstream jet and a fleet of 24 luxury cars. In 2011 as part of this investigation, French authorities seized and later sold nine luxury cars from the Obiang family, including a Ferrari, an Aston Martin V8, two Bentleys and a Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe. They raised £2.7million at auction.
Also seized were one of Teodoro’s Paris homes, art works and 300 bottles of Chateau Petrus worth almost £2million. Britain has no direct aid programme with the country but funnels money through the EU, World Bank and UN – more than £3.5million between 2005 and 2009.
The 14-bedroom property on the upmarket Rue de l’Universite includes a heated swimming pool, a Jacuzzi, seven parking spaces and a tennis court. He is also accused of amassing £65million from the African country while serving as its forestry minister. His father Teodoro Nguesso Mbasogo, owns several properties in Paris including an entire six-storey period building on the prestigious Avenue Foch, worth £15million.
Description: South African President Jacob Zuma’s estate paid for by the tax-payers of Soweto.
In 2011 it was revealed that Denis Sassou Nguesso, president of Congo Brazzaville (the French Congo), had built up a multi-million-pound Paris property portfolio with the help of British taxpayers’ aid money. A report by anti-corruption groups showed he owned 16 of the most luxurious residences there. His country is among the biggest recipients of UK foreign aid. In 2011 it received £133million and that sum is set to rise to £258million by 2015.
While South Africa is seen as the continent’s ‘big brother’ and richest, it emerged last year that President Jacob Zuma had spent £17.5million to upgrade his rural home into a luxury mansion. The sum is almost exactly the amount Britain gave to South Africa the previous year. The Zuma estate includes 31 new houses, a bunker accessed by lifts, a helipad and state-of-the art security systems, including fingerprint-controlled access pads. In addition, roads to the property were given £40million of improvements. Zuma, who has four wives and at least 20 children, is said to have spent only £700,000 of his own money on the project. Britain is committed to spending an average of £19million a year in aid on South Africa until 2015.
In one of the worst cases of the blatant theft of aid money, £1.2million given by Britain to Sierra Leone to ‘support peacekeeping’ was stolen. According to WikiLeaks files, in 2009 the country’s ‘top brass’ stole the money and spent it on plasma TVs and other consumer items. A secret cable from the US embassy reported ‘deep corruption’ within the defence ministry, ‘primarily through pocketing [by the top brass] of enlisted men’s salaries’.