It is common in Uganda for an employee to call/WhatsApp/text/email an employer to notify them about their absence from work because they are going for burial.
Whereas it is a big challenge for profit-oriented firms to survive in the competitive world, the nonprofit entities (non-governmental organizations and government business) are also affected in project implementation and reporting deadlines to their donors/general public.
In the public sector, the quality of services offered is tremendously affected by the endless absence of government workers.
As a result, lots of man-hours are lost, a lot of fuel/transport cash, food costs are incurred as people bury every day of the week. Extended vigils and out-of-fashion last funeral rites are responsible for perpetuating poverty due to high expenditure.
We need to sensitize the masses to change from this practice, such that mourners only show up on the day and time of the burial and depart immediately after burial. The above scenario comes on the back of our culture, traditions, religion, weak labour laws and our general laissez faire attitude.
Since death is one of the few sure realities, it is important that we change our attitude and culture to start burying our dear ones on weekends, except Muslims whose religion does not permit that.
In order to keep our deceased decently and affordably for many days, we shall need funeral homes, (not necessarily more mortuaries), where bodies can be kept and cared for many days to enable us bury on weekends.
A funeral home is a place where bodies are kept in refrigerators, treated/embalmed, cremated (where applicable) at a fee, with a compound/sitting area for the vigil and with areas for viewing of the body, complete with reception areas, ample parking and only removed when the family members are ready to proceed for the burial. Currently, we have very few funeral homes around Kampala, with no such services upcountry.
Many African countries such as Kenya are already moving in this direction. The few funeral homes around Kampala are very expensive. As such, the government should, through its various local governments, construct funeral homes. Government should also help investors with suitable land, tax-free transportation vehicles, education and training for this service to take off.
In order to regulate the above sector, government will need to come up with an enabling law and policies applicable across all cultures and religions.
The very traditional people will also need to embrace modernity so as to fit in the current global village.
Godfrey Bwebukya Kisekka,
Town clerk, Makindye division.
Amend article 246 of the Constitution
As we prepare for constitutional amendments, we should consider article 146 for review.
This article talks about the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), a body that advises the president in appointing the chief justice (CJ), deputy CJ, principal judge, justices of the Supreme court, etc.
Provisions of this article lack the input of a leader of opposition. Uganda, specifically the ministry of justice and constitutional affairs, should borrow a leaf from other Commonwealth countries such as Jamaica and India.
In these countries, the appointment of judges and members of their respective judicial service commissions is done with consultation with the leader of opposition.
The Barbados constitution of 1966 also has a provision which elucidates that when it comes to appointing judges, the prime minister shall do so after consultation with the leader of opposition.
We may not have to overhaul the entire wording of article 146, but at least borrow from other countries and ensure that the leader of opposition is brought on board.
Revise Sim card registration rules
I would like to appreciate Uganda Communications Commission for their noble job in ensuring that all active Sim cards are duly registered.
This, once done appropriately, will help in curbing crimes that have a correlation with phone use.
However, I am so uncomfortable with the inconsiderate, unjust and haphazard manner in which UCC wants us to register our Sim cards in seven days using national identification card numbers.
What will Ugandans without national IDs do in this case? These people are our mothers, fathers and close relatives and friends who have a right to use phones if they can afford them. Most of these people registered to get national IDs and they have not got them to date! Whose blame is it?
In case people’s phones are switched off over a matter they don’t have any control over, will that not have been an infringement and hence a violation of those people’s rights?
UCC should come up with a Sim card registration process that accommodates all Ugandans regardless of whether they have national IDs or not.
Inequality breeds insecurity
It is very clear in Uganda that the level of income inequality has reached its peak.
As a result, the rich spend a lot of money protecting themselves from the poor. I have interacted with renowned economists and one of them summarizes inequality in Uganda this way: that we have a sleepless country.
This is because the rich are guarding themselves from the poor - they hire armed guards, buy dogs, CCTV cameras, build perimeter walls, have burglarproof on their doors, buy motion sensor lights and others even have weapons inside their houses.
Their nights are always interrupted by their car alarms that go off all the time either because of wind, falling leaves or a thief (poor) who is trying to get hold of a side mirror or an indicator so they can buy food.
In the end, the rich are not sleeping because the poor are awake. This is what inequality means in simple terms.
As a country, we need deliberate economic reforms that address this enigma and without such, we shall be spending much on security while ignoring the deep root cause –inequality.
Advocate of courts of judicature.