When the AIDS pandemic struck the world over 30 years ago, Uganda seemed to suffer more than the rest of the world. So many measures were undertaken to avert it including the famous ABC approach (abstinence, being faithful to official partners and condom use).
It must however be stressed here that while Uganda embarked on those measures to combat HIV/AIDS, the rest of the world never adopted the same measures but managed to deal with it in their own way.
Although the AIDS pandemic remains a real threat to human kind even when there is no known vaccine to deal with it, the world has learnt to live with it. It seems to have set a precedent that pandemics can be handled selectively from country to country – vaccine or no vaccine.
The corona virus which has so far ravaged the globe for the last 8 to 9 months misled the scientists to prescribe the same measures for the whole world, yet it has NOT had the same impact for all the countries.
While it has managed to claim more than a thousand lives in 24 hours in some countries, Uganda has not lost a single person to Covid-19. This means Uganda should have an approach that reflects the impact of the corona virus. But as of now, it’s becoming very clear that the Ugandan government is using the Covid-19 pandemic as an instrument of oppression and suppression of Ugandans.
It’s been four months since Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni announced restrictions yet, paradoxically speaking, ever since his impositions on March 17th 2020, Ugandans have not interfaced with the Corona Virus as no Ugandan has perished due to the virus!
In his post, Yoweri Museveni takes his time to make a decisive step about lifting the lockdown. Almost the entire country has run out of patience and is requesting for a compete relaxation of restrictions that were imposed in the wake of the emergence of the virus.
The schools, bars, salons, motor cyclists (boda-bodas), worshiping places (churches and mosques), lodges, commercial buildings (arcades) et cetra, are all still closed.
The loss of the evangelical movement
The evangelical church which is known to be very close to the Ugandan president and NRM is already getting agitated and are craving for an immediate opening up of the churches.
Pastor Joseph Serwada, who happens to be one of the leaders of the religious leader’s movement, and a known ardent supporter of President Museveni has viciously lamented the continued lockdown that is not justified by statistics of fatalities to Covid19.
Speaking on Sunday morning, 19th July 2020, on the program that runs from 6am to 8am on his impact radio, Pastor Serwada said that the Covid19 ‘threat power of March 2020’ does not possess the same ‘threat power of the Covid19 of July 2020’.
He said that when the president called all the religious leaders at state house to explain why he was going to impose the lockdown, he explained that the virus was likely to kill very many Ugandans if the government doesn’t impose the lockdown.
However, four months down the road, no single Ugandan has died of Covid19.
Pastor Serwada then made a statement which had hallmarks of an ultimatum when he said that if President Museveni doesn’t say anything about the fate of the religious activities, he (Serwada) will not speak about the corona virus any more. The pastor also revealed that Covid19 has become more of a commercial venture than a pandemic.
Pastor Serwadda’s remarks come at a time when another Pastor Kiganda engineered anti-lockdown protests by wearing sacks as a sign of protest at the continued closure of churches and worshiping places in general.
Another religious leader called Pastor Augustine Yiga was jailed for several months for suggesting that Uganda was not supposed to endure a lockdown because there was no Corona Virus in Uganda.
The political terrain
As the political campaigns hit high gear around the country, President Museveni is faced with a very difficult task of appeasing the evangelical fraternity, which has been very loyal to him, by opening up or; maintaining the lock down and face the consequences of losing countrywide support.
The owners of the commercial buildings (the arcades) have already staged demonstrations demanding to be allowed to operate. President Museveni is set to address the country on Tuesday, 21st July 2020, most of these sector owners only want to hear him open up the economy.
During his last Covid-19 address, the Ugandan president made a mess of things when he only allowed personal cars to add another passenger (on top of the previous three) in their vehicles, as a sign of relaxing the restrictions leaving Ugandans very frustrated. He had promised to address the country after 14 days of the previous address, but had been dodging around, making himself look more deceitful.
As the political season gets into high gear, most presidential candidates are already making political inroads of support around the country. One of them, Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) has already taken advantage of President Museveni’s intransigence and generated a lot of countrywide support from the masses.
Conspiracy theorists believe that President Museveni has deliberately locked out sectors like the boda-bodas because of their proclivity to support the opposition, particularly Bobi Wine.
There are intelligence reports that the boda-bodas are just a whisper away from staging mass protests in the city which might have bigger political implications for a government that has lost a lot of credibility in the cause of the fight against Covid19.
Just as Pastor Serwada said earlier on, most Ugandans have come to regard the fight against Covid-19 as a commercial venture that is enriching a few government officials close to President Museveni than a health undertaking.
The Covid-19 trends
At the moment, the corona virus has killed over 600,000 people all over the world but Uganda has not lost a single person to covid-19.
The World Health Organization (WHO) which issued the guidelines that included the lockdown had suggested that some countries with fewer fatalities were not supposed to adopt the same tough measures as the countries with high fatality rates.
Nevertheless, the Ugandan government has gone on to adopt measures much tougher than those in countries which have lost thousands of people to Covid19. Yet, it has no structures to deal with the welfare of an idle population.
For instance, while the school system and the entire transport system of China which lost thousands of people to Covid19 in general and Wuhan in particular have opened up, Uganda is still under lockdown.
While Sweden, Denmark, Germany, USA, Italy and a host of other countries which were hit hard by the virus have allowed most activities (including sports activities like football) to resume, Uganda is still under lockdown.
The fundamental aspect of Uganda’s lockdown is that it has ceased to be a health guideline designed to avert the spreads of the corona virus and become an instrument for suppressing Ugandans.
President Museveni’s address on Tuesday 21st July 2020 is going to be very decisive in the political fortunes of the NRM and president Museveni in general.
One thing for sure is that president Museveni is most unlikely to relax the restrictions including the much-dreaded curfew and continue using covid-19 as an instrument of suppression. it hurts Ugandans that Tanzania which lost more people to covid19, has already relaxed almost all restrictions.
DISCLAIMER: Any and all views expressed in the article are not those of The Investigator News. They are an expression of the author’s personal opinion. Usage, of any kind, of the information herein is at the user’s own risk. The Investigator News shall not be liable for any consequences arising from such usage.
- Fred Daka Kamwada is a seasoned journalist, blogger and political analyst for over a decade in Uganda
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