It all started with government lawyers (prosecutors) laying down their tools at the beginning of October this year.
They accused government of failure to fulfill a pledge it made in July to increase their salaries and give them some tax waivers. They are also demanding promotions.
The pledge was to increase the salary of the lowest-paid prosecutor from less than a million shillings to Shs 3.5m. Justice minister Kahinda Otafiire had promised to finance the increment through a supplementary budget.
I don’t think Otafiire remembers that prosecutors are on strike. He is busy traversing the country trying to popularize a proposal to remove presidential age limits in the Constitution so Mr Museveni can rule for life.
Removal of age limits is an emergency issue for this government. That is why all top NRM leaders are in the field begging a reluctant population to accept the constitutional change.
Now we have medical workers whose strike has entered a second week. These ones are striking against low pay and poor working conditions. They are not only paid poorly but they also don’t have the basic tools to use in their daily work!
Jane Ruth Aceng, the minister of Health, has been advised by State House and solicitor general to declare the medical workers’ strike illegal, order all of them to resume work and resident district commissioners (RDCs) to ensure compliance.
Security agencies have not announced a strike but their conduct suggests they are carrying out one. The display of rotten shoes one of them was wearing during the brutal rearrest of Andrew Felix Kaweesi’s murder suspect, I think, was intended to profile their working conditions as well.
A senior policeman told me he fears that, one day, one of the poorly-paid juniors may go on rampage and, say, shoot a whole Togikwatako rally over poor pay.
These fellows are not paid any extra allowance for carrying teargas launchers on their shoulders and for walking streets intimidating protesters.
Recently, the revolutionary told off soldiers who were expecting some salary increment. Meanwhile, prices of essential commodities keep rising. And because the numbers of buyers is reducing, supermarkets are closing.
And the solution, according to Mike Mukula, is change the Constitution so we keep a God-chosen manager. The whole lot of wazeeyi such as Moses Ali, Kirunda Kivejinja and Ndugu Ruhakana Rugunda are knocking at people’s doors pleading for a constitutional change.
Dr Rugunda, as a prime minister, is the coordinator of government programmes and he supervises and monitors service delivery. He is now busy coordinating and supervising the Gikwateko campaign.
And we are still surviving as a people only because of the Almighty God’s grace.
The total budget of the ministry of Health this financial year is Shs 971 billion. The biggest percentage of this budget (Shs 892 billion) is donations from Europeans and Americans.
When you add referral and other health facilities, the budget comes to Shs 1.7 trillion. This simply means that more than 90 per cent of ministry of Health’s operations are donor-funded.
And nearly half of the entire health sector budget is funded by donors. Here, I am talking about Global Fund for HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria which gives us Shs 667 billion a year.
There are also other donors such as Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. Then there is the United Nations, Saudi Arabia, Islamic Development Bank, Belgium and Italy, etc.
I don’t know what these people think of us when they hear that a country which cannot finance immunization of her children has raised Shs 13 billion to fund fake consultations.
Look, the total budget of regional referral hospitals this year is just Shs 90 billion. The president has been given the same amount (Shs 90 billion) in the budget for donations. This is the money he is using to run all over to popularize himself.
Sadly, majority of Ugandans seek medical care at regional referral hospitals. I think the solution to all these problems will be for the whole population to go on strike. Medical doctors, prosecutors and lecturers ought to understand that their problems today are no longer a salary increment alone.
The foundation can no longer hold and, for me, that is what we must deal with as a country. It is not only money that we are spending to popularize our revolutionary leader, but our valuable time as well.
The cabinet didn’t sit to discuss prosecutors’ strike, it didn’t sit to discuss medical workers’ strike, but it sat twice to discuss the removal of age limits.
And you have seen the police conduct as well. They didn’t camp in Entebbe to stop the murders of innocent women but are the first to arrive at every Togikwatako rally.
The whole state machinery has been deployed to ensure the man gets his thing. Now that donors are the ones immunizing us, get prepared to be fed by them. Brace yourselves because we are in descending mode.
The author is Kira Municipality MP and spokesperson of FDC.