The government has told Kyandondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine to back off from his plans of repatriating Ugandans stuck in China.
In a letter dated April 15 and addressed to Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, Bobi Wine, said he has partnered with an American media owner and businessman Neil Nelson to evacuate 285 Ugandans and other black Africans currently stuck in China.
Africans in China have come under coronavirus discrimination and attack with some of them evicted from their houses and hotels while others are denied entrance into restaurants and supermarkets. They have been accused of bringing coronavirus to China where the first reported COVID-19 cases were recorded in December 2019.
Following the coronavirus outbreak, Uganda closed its airport in March for all inbound and outbound travellers. Ugandans stuck in China have appealed to the government to be returned back home.
Bobi Wine in his letter to Rugunda, asked the government to allow the Ugandans into the country, saying they have secured a privately chartered Quantum Jet Airbus A330-200. Bobi Wine further said the returnees would be taken care of by him and Nelson while in quarantine.
In response, however, the government has however asked Bobi Wine, to leave foreign affairs matters to President Yoweri Museveni. Minister of state for Foreign Affairs, Henry Okello Oryem questioned how Bobi Wine would meet the quarantine costs. Oryem also wondered if Bobi Wine will also transport Ugandans stuck in other parts of the world.
The minister says the responsibility of protecting the Ugandans abroad, lies with the head of state.
“If any Ugandan succeeds and achieves, it’s the responsibility of the president of Uganda, if any Uganda dies abroad, this is also the responsibility of the president of Uganda. Does he have the capacity to be held responsible for all of this, no? This is a foreign policy issue that you do not just wake up to do” Oryem said on phone.
According to Oryem, the government is currently registering Ugandans abroad; in America, the United Kingdom and other parts of the world.
Joel Ssenyonyi the spokesperson People Power says that Bobi Wine and his partners will cater for all of the costs, including quarantine and feeding. He says the government should not ignore its citizens suffering abroad.
"The honourable Kyagulanyi together with a couple of other friends will bring people in and meet their entire cost - quarantine and everything. To say that this is cheap popularity, I think is madness for any government to ignore its people suffering in any country, and then someone decides to help and they say it is cheap popularity. Okay, if it is cheap popularity, let then be the ones to bring these Ugandans back. That is what we have been saying, that is what these Ugandans have been saying. We would have reached out to people with the means to do this, we shouldn’t be the ones doing this but government has ignored them and said you suffer,"
Betty Aol Ocan, the Leader of Opposition says that Bobi Wine's offer is based on humanitarian grounds and not for politics.