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Open letter to govt on coronavirus crisis

Right from the very start of this crisis, we committed ourselves as a party to supporting the government efforts to deal with it and only provide constructive criticism that can lead to improvement of those efforts.

To that end, we would like to commend the measures put in place by the government to curb the spread of coronavirus. These include the swift shutting down of schools and tertiary institutions, strict border-crossing measures and the identification, isolation and testing of people exhibiting symptoms. We salute the medical, social and security services that are on the frontlines of this battle.

Your selfless service to the nation is seen, it is appreciated and it will be remembered. We would also like to commend the UPDF leadership’s acknowledgement of some soldiers’ undisciplined, unnecessary, unjustifiable violence against civilians in the name of implementing the president’s orders.

And while this is a step in the right direction, Ugandans expect that there will be no repeat of the same. Thus far, the government has been very clear on what it expects from Ugandans.

The president has over the past two weeks issued various directives calling upon Ugandans to stay at home, limit their movement to essential business only, avoid physical contact and carry out frequent washing of hands.

For the most part, Ugandans have heeded this call and must be commended for their sacrifices. What is not yet clear, is what Ugandans can expect from the government.

Many of them have lost their source of income, have no food reserves or savings to see them through the next 14 days and yet are the most vulnerable.

While the president has said the government will look into this, no concrete steps have been communicated. There is nothing more basic than the need for food. It is unrealistic to ask people to self-isolate when they have nothing to eat at home. How much money is needed to provide for those in need?

How much has the government mobilized? What is the shortfall and how does it propose that it is met? Equally important, how will the distribution of this food, once acquired, be done to ensure that it reaches those it is intended for? These are questions Ugandans at home need answers to.

Without this information, it is counterproductive for government to ban voluntary efforts (by politicians, faith-based institutions etc) to meet people’s need.

What the president is interpreting as cheap politics is for many Ugandans, the provision of daily bread. We therefore make the following recommendations to the government:

1. To provide clarity on what plans are being put in place to mitigate the humanitarian needs arising from people’s adherence to the lockdown measures. Specifically, we ask that the amount of food required is quantified and communicated to the public as well as the distribution methods that are going to be used. This will not only provide Ugandans the assurance that government is doing something, but will also enable those that are able to contribute to this effort a clear picture of what and how to do so.

2. To provide practical guidance on how to keep markets and other essential services open. The idea of keeping 4 metres distance seems impractical in cases like roadside markets where a distance of 8 metres (2 people) would put shoppers onto the road.

Is it possible for instance to provide traders with surgical masks and gloves? Can the government publicize, incentivise or partner with companies offering home-delivery services? This would enable them to increase their capacity by hiring bodabodas which would in turn ease the need for going to the market.

We cannot assume that the most vulnerable among us will have the capacity to walk to the markets, let alone hire home delivery services on their own.

3. To let Ugandans know what, if anything, is being done to prepare for a full-blown pandemic if it does happen. The earlier we become aware of our options, the more mentally prepared we will be as a nation. We noted that the president talked of generous donations from Mr. Tony Elumelu and we have read press reports of others including Alibaba’s Jack Ma.

Instead of using the money from the latter to buy cars, we propose that the government uses it to either buy food for the people or equipment to deal with coronavirus patients.

Given the extent of the lockdown, the taskforce surely can be given access to a host of government vehicles that are parked as a result of the lockdown.

We will be making more recommendations over the course of the next few days and as we have done previously, appeal to the government to seriously consider these proposals in good faith and in the spirit of national unity against this vicious, invisible enemy that must be defeated.

Coronavirus is a risk to us all as Ugandans, and we will fight it united as Ugandans. We continue to urge Ugandans to adhere to the health measures prescribed by the ministry of health. Stay at home, wash your hands regularly, and avoid shaking of hands, hugs and other such bodily contact.

We are praying for the nation, as I am certain, are many other people. We shall overcome

The author is the national coordinator Alliance for National Transformation (ANT)

Comments

0 #1 Dan Mambule 2020-03-31 21:08
Many thanks, Gen Mugisha Muntu.
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0 #2 Tom Opio 2020-04-01 10:28
Great proposal, thank you Gen. Muntu.

My additional, can the leadership permit use of private cars without passengers just to pick food from gardens and markets.

There are people who do NOT have delivery vans but used regular private cars as delivery vans. This can also help the few that can do self drive to hospitals.

The cars can be restricted within geographical allocations say greater Kampala or respective districts to avoid spread of covid19 virus across the country.
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+6 #3 Ugthinker 2020-04-01 14:40
Covid-19 will without a doubt bring about the national dialogue which was long over due!

The only question is whether the man at the centre of his political embarrassment will humbly climb down his one man vision high horse.

Sadly this pandemic came at the apex of Museveni’s three decades of destruction which on its own was at tipping edge anyway!

What Ugandans shouldn’t do after the pandemic, is to let Museveni continue in his tracks. By then even the dumbest amongst us including boot lickers will have appreciated Museveni’s ineptness! His cronyism, patronage, tokenism and chest thumping, as anticipated by some of us will have profited no one!

Countries are run on sound policies, by competent personnel not fortune hunters!

It’s so hopeless to stare at the pandemic helplessly with in disjointed addresses from a tired leader with nothing to offer!
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+3 #4 Umukosi 2020-04-01 16:26
M7 thinks only about himself, that is why the biggest junk in supplementary budget goes into security.

It is not enforcing the lock down alone but another means of oppressing Ugandans further. The whole down is to protect himself but he case less for ordinary Ugandans.

He is scared the people might use this crisis for an uprising. One thing he should be assured of is that things won't be the same after this. Ugandans should come out of this united and demand change and their freedom.
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+2 #5 Umukosi 2020-04-01 16:26
It is what happens when a country is led by non- citizens.

The so called leaders don't care about the citizens because it is not their people. M7 and his goons see Ugandans as slaves who should provide for them without any questions and stay obedient at all costs and all times.

He thinks he owns Ugandans and Uganda was given birth by his mother. Ugandans ask your selves one Question: Who did these bushmen liberate and from who?

Liberation looks different. In a liberated nation all people are equal before the law. No one is imprisoned because of showing interest in the Presidency.

Let me assure Mr. Museveni you a re going to die and leave Uganda where you found it. You aren't going to the grave with you!

Before you there are very many who thought they were immortal ; they even built Pyramids we a re hope that they will come back. Where are they. If stars in the universe can burn out. Who do you think you are?
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+1 #6 Maate Reagan 2020-04-01 16:54
".....Without this information, it is counterproductive for government to ban voluntary efforts (by politicians, faith-based institutions etc) to meet people’s need."

African Countries must surely learn a thing or two after the end of this pandemic.. Preparedness , No Objection state relief for citizens , otherwise thank you general
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+3 #7 Nalongo Mutiima 2020-04-01 17:58
Museveni sends people into their homes without means to buy food to keep them alive.

it is funny that you want to stop death from Covid-19 but you don't care whether the poor starve to death. Which death is worse????
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+2 #8 Jama 2020-04-03 01:09
I read some where about a samosa vendor, who was brutalized and whipped like a beast by the police and the recently formed LDU militia.

And worst of all the poor man's samosa worth 60,000sh was destroyed by these heartless men.

Unfortunately those who claimed to have liberated us from oppression are worse than their predecessors.
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+2 #9 Nalongo Mutiima 2020-04-04 12:19
In a tweet, Andrew Mwenda praised to high heavens Mugisha Muntu for his open letter on Covid-19 as the noblest, greatest, smartest and most patriotic statement any Ugandan opposition politician has ever made.

Reading between the lines, Mwenda does not regard Mugisha Muntu as Opposition but a hired operative, like Mwenda, doing dirty work for their godsend NRM.
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