Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni claimed he is working for “low pay” as an argument for his citizens not to go on strike during a May Day speech on Tuesday.
Museveni claimed he and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) had made their personal sacrifices in order to serve the Ugandan people.
“You cannot lecture me about working for Ugandans, I and the NRM are working for low pay; why don’t we go on strike?” Museveni asked. “Those policemen have been standing in the rain, and they don’t earn too much; why don’t they go on strike?”
“A doctor who goes on strike is an enemy of the people and he should be treated as such. I don’t want to hear that nonsense,” he continued. “In fact [when doctors went on strike] I wanted to go back to the bush but I was restrained.”
Museveni’s claim comes despite evidence that he is the highest paid person in the country. Government documents obtained by Uganda’s the Observer newspaper reveal that around 232.4 billion Ugandan shillings ($62.2 million) were spent on him and his family in the financial year 2016 to 2017.
“What material benefit do I get from being involved in government?” he asked during his New Year’s address. “In the last 52 years, I have either been working for no pay or for little pay. Maybe those people talking mean ‘greedy’ for sacrifice.”
The comments are the latest in a string eye-catching statements from the 73-year-old politician, who has ruled Uganda since 1986 as leader of the extremist National Resistance Movement. He intends to run for a sixth term in 2021 following the approval of a bill that abolishes presidential age limits.
In January, Museveni endorsed President Donald Trump’s comments dismissing “shithole countries”—believed to be a reference to Africa and Latin America—praising him for talking about “Africans’ weaknesses frankly.”
“Donald Trump speaks to Africa frankly. Africans need to solve their problems,” he wrote at the time. “You can’t survive if you are weak. It is the Africans’ fault that they are weak.”
Last month, Museveni raised eyebrows after warning people against the practice of fellatio, pointing out that the “mouth is for eating” rather than sexual activity.
“Let me take this opportunity to warn our people publicly about the wrong practices indulged in and promoted by some of the outsiders,” Museveni said in the Ugandan parliament. “The mouth is for eating, not for sex. We know the address of sex, we know where sex is.”