It is now 2 months since the Government of Uganda announced a lock down in an effort to contain the novel Corona Virus. Public transport was banned and Uganda’s borders sealed as President Museveni urged Ugandans to stay at home.
As of today, statistics show that Uganda has 227 people who have tested positive with no deaths, a clear sign that the lock down could be bearing some fruit. However, two months down the road, the population is getting weary and a continuation of the lock down will not go down well with citizens.
Here are 10 reasons why Uganda should lift the lockdown.
The source of the virus is known
Statistics in the last few days clearly indicate that almost all positive cases are from truck drivers. Keeping the statistically negative Ugandans in a lock down while allowing the source of the virus to go on with their day to day work is betrayal.
People don’t know what the trucks are bringing
Ugandans all not adequately informed about what the rucks are ferrying. The public’s belief is that the trucks belong to the connected who have chosen to continue doing businesses since they are closer to the corridors of power.
While it is logical that only essential staff go to work during the lock down, it would also be logical that only essential goods be imported. Essential goods therefore cannot be kept a secret. The lack of information concerning the kind of goods being imported only raises the public’s doubt about the whole thing.
Decision makers are moving freely and earning heavily
The decision to keep the fourty four million people in a lock down is made by a privileged few. Whereas the reasons for a lock down look genuine, the effects on the masses are being ignored.
The people forcing Ugandans to stay indoors don’t even know what it means to stay indoors. Their vehicles have stickers and can therefore go about their normal routine both within and outside their homes and offices. This privileged lot are heavily salaried and their allowances are far beyond the income of an average Ugandan.
It is universal knowledge that the best way to decide for others is if you share their pain. When those deciding for Ugandans are living under different conditions, the lock down can go on for even a year.
The relief program is a laughing stock
During times like these, a country’s ability to help those in dire need is put on a test. The first option is the government’s offer, followed by external assistance from well-wishers both within and outside the country.
Reports of poor quality maize flour, beans, expired milk and the other relief items from government suppliers are popular headlines in the media today. To add salt to injury, those that are willing to donate to the masses are not allowed to do so.
In the 2 months since the lock down started, only a few communities within Kampala and surrounding areas have had the chance of getting something from government. In some communities, peoples NIN numbers are being asked for before putting them on the list of beneficiaries only for the suppliers to disappear with nothing for the citizen.
If that is not enough drama, those willing to help are not allowed to do so. A case in point is Hon. Zaake who is currently nursing wounds (inflicted on himself – accordion to Police) just because he did the noble thing to avail his constituents with relief items.
We have no deaths so far
While developed economies with advanced health systems are registering many deaths due to Covid-19, our humble Uganda has not register a single death. This is a very commendable success that must not go ignored.
The only deaths we as a country are recording related to Covid-19 are either due to the high handedness of some security forces or the failure of pregnant mothers to access medical help in time.
It should be remembered that deaths due to Malaria, Cholera in the past and recently Ebola didn’t bring give reason for a lock down. It is therefore perturbing Ugandans why we continue in an endless lock down.
Misappropriation of resources by Government
In any sensible setup like a home, difficult times warrant stringent financial measures. It would warrant that any available finances be handled with extreme frugality by spending only on essential expenses.
Sadly, the government’s strategy is hypocritical. Members of parliament were of recent awarded twenty million shillings and after public outcry, a package of fourty million shillings was awarded to the privileged section of our shameless house. In the media, it was reported that some medical staff were fending for themselves and had no protective gear.
In this period, only a shameless government would start bickering over who should share what and when while leaving the suffering masses at the mercy of God. All resources would at this time be dedicated towards helping the vulnerable masses put something on their table.
Our economy lives hand to mouth
The majority of Ugandans live from hand to mouth. Taking these citizens through 2 months of unemployment and obvious uncertainty is un-defendable. Unless you live on another planet, it is no secret that a boda boda man, a taxi driver, a bar tender and salon owner are in a state of despair.
When it comes to the salaried ones, say a teacher in a private school, they are torn between nobility and survival. Their employers understandably have nowhere to get their salaries from. A case in point is the Islamic University in Uganda that has terminated the contracts of virtually all its staff.
While a taxi driver is not employed for now and not sure of his future, the person deciding how long he will stay at home is enjoying the ambience of their air conditioned office with a hefty allowance, kick back from suppliers and freedom of movement at any time of the day (even night).
People already know what the President is to say
The President’s first speech was earnestly watched by millions of viewers. This time, even the coldest pessimist swallowed their pride and welcomed the President’s direction.
However, starting with the second appearance, the numbers started going down. Social media is also awash with the sequences of increments. When the President’s speech comes with the expected results, there is a likelihood that the next speech will gather even less viewership.
In one of the appearances, the president talked for close to 4 hours on TV only to break the hearts of anticipating Ugandans with a further extension of the lockdown in just a few words.
The President’s sarcasm has also left many hopeless. His insinuation that he was happily living with his bazzukulu didn’t go down well with the less privileged who cannot afford a meal a day. The less privileged even know that even if the president’s bazzukulu don’t go to school, they are assured of the fattiest jobs in the country.
Some of the directives by government are contradictory to the ordinary person.
First, the president asked the security forces to enforce the lock down. The following day, images of the country’s security forces indiscriminately flogging citizens started appearing. As usual, the president distanced himself from the happenings.
In the middle of the lock down, whole sale shops were allowed to operate. However, in a small community anywhere in Uganda, wholesalers are frequented by retailers and yet the later are not yet allowed to operate. SO, who were the wholesalers supposed to serve?
Then, garages were allowed to operate but again the shops that sell the spare parts were not allowed to operate.
Treatment of foreigners as first class citizens
In any small neighborhood with foreign residents, it is easy to notice that a Chinese occupied vehicle will bypass a a road block without any problem. This is the reverse for a Ugandan citizen.
The public which is well aware that Covid-19 was discovered in a foreign country is left with no choice but to wonder why a foreigner seems to have more rights and privileges.
Just last week, members of the family of a well known tycoon were allowed to enter Uganda despite a standing directive by the president to close the airport. Government’s efforts to water down the story were futile since previous efforts by other people to have Ugandans back were trashed by the same government.
Ironically, some of the members of this privileged family possessed American passports and have roots from a neighboring country. Explaining to a hungry Ugandan why these were allowed in at such a time was left to the equally confused government mouth piece, Ofwono Opondo – he knows the truth but he has to defend his job.
These and many more are reasons why Ugandans will not see any benefit in the continued lock down. The only thing on the mind of Ugandans now is for the govern men to lift the lock down and tighten the borders.