I don’t have much confidence in Uganda’s ‘scientific’ elections planned to take place next year in 2021.
No matter who wins, we are going to be in deep trouble. I agree that the word, ‘scientific’ may be alien to the majority of Ugandans, but the use of radios, TVs, social media, etc, for campaigning isn’t.
We have used them before, during campaigns. There is everything wrong with having rallies now, and I also think that Museveni is lucky; Covid-19 makes the rigging easier compared to previous elections.
The disease is an international pandemic. Just because it hasn’t supposedly hit Uganda so hard, it doesn’t mean that the virus isn’t there, or won’t be there. I am not really against rallies per se, but I understand why we aren’t going to have rallies during campaigns, and I expect people to understand this.
Voting for someone does not necessarily require one to meet the person he or she intends to vote for. In most cases, what is required is for the candidate to present their ideas in the form of a manifesto, and then the voter decides what to do with that information.
A manifesto can be communicated via rallies, radios, TVs, emails, Facebook, etc, and this is something we have been doing for ages. The only difference is that there won’t be rallies and I think this is understandable.
I know most in the opposition are convinced that scientific elections only disfavour the opposition, which is arguably true, but they are looking at the situation from one side. I am, on the other hand, looking at it from a public health point of view.
Rallies spread viruses because they are not a one-off thing. Voting at a polling station can potentially spread viruses, too, but it is a controllable environment and it’s a one-day thing.
For God and my country
The above being the motto of our country, one would expect it to be reflected in the conduct of business throughout the Nation; in the family, politics, trade, civil service, NGOs, Sports, Church, Religion, entertainment, to mention but a few.
In my view, the decision to keep the Church and other religious institutions under lockdown, while the same is eased for shopping malls, hotels, hospitals, markets, restaurants, taxis, construction sites and other numerous business activities, greatly undermines the role of the Church and religions in holding the moral and ethical structure of our nation and providing spiritual healing which is foundational for personal and corporate success.
Where is God in our decision making as a Nation? Is the God in our motto simply for profession, or the foundation of our country? If God is the foundation, which He is, why is the Church and religions not priority?
The actions of our government during this Covid-19 pandemic to me are a reflection of a wanting relationship between the current leadership and Uganda’s National motto; FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY!
“If the foundations be destroyed, what will the righteous do?”
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Think about lecturers
A lot has been written about the plight of teachers in private schools as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown. It should be noted that lecturers from private universities too, have faced a similar fate.
Media reports have widely featured several private universities ceasing the payment of lecturers. Some of these universities have reached the extent of even cancelling all contracts made with lecturers prior to the lockdown.
It is well-known that the government provides study loans to students in several private universities and by default ought to be concerned about the fate of lecturers in these institutions.
How will they account for the money the government pays for these loan students to study yet their lecturers have been furloughed? Is there any form of aid that can be granted to the private university lecturers as the Covid-19 crisis makes it uncertain to reopen universities anytime soon?
Youth should up their game
Many youth will remonstrate of how things are bad in the country, mostly on social media. At the same time, you will find the same people showing a deep lack of knowledge on vital issues like politics.
First, I don’t think the current leaders will cede leadership to the young people simply because they are young! In any case, many didn’t receive theirs through mere wishing and lobbying for a conducive policy.
Secondly, this young generation is generally less principled, always meek and mild, and always wayward on principles on vital aspects that determine the fate of the nation.
Why should the youth, who are the majority of the population, allow themselves to be in this predicament when we/they can change things?
We should wake up and start taking things that matter head-on, be it in governance, education, civil society ‘cooperate world’, etc. No one will give us anything on a silver platter.
Covid-19 and human rights
So, what advice would human rights defenders provide to government in trying to enforce the presidential directives and ministry of Health guidelines?
The presidential directives and MoH guidelines should have been subjected to a human rights-based approach lense – which demands that human rights norms and principles are integrated in all processes and activity plans with a view that in implementing these directives and guidelines, the rights and freedoms of citizens may be restricted but not abused.
This means that there should have been participatory input by different actors/stakeholders in the design and implementation of the directives and guidelines. Who should have participated?
The Uganda Human Rights Commission and human rights defenders/civic organizations should have been invited to make inputs or comment on the same during the design process.
There should have been a mechanism for accountability by state actors or duty bearers in implementing the directives and guidelines throughout. This applies to citizens fulfilling their duties of compliance to the same.
Accountability is meant to ensure that duty bearers and citizens are held accountable in their deeds and actions. How do you deal with law enforcement agencies or state actors that violate the rights of citizens during implementation of such guidelines? What about private citizens who abuse the rights of others? How do you handle them during the crisis?
Thirdly, there was a need to ensure non-discrimination in implementing these directives and guidelines. For example, who received emergency food and who didn’t? Who was cleared as an essential worker - was it fair to all? Did your emergency support cater for the most vulnerable and marginalized, such as people with disabilities, the youth, widows, orphans and refugees?
Finally, the rule of law should be observed at all times in implementing the directives and guidelines by both state and non-state actors. The courts and institutions of law enforcement should be operational and their orders be respected and obeyed by all and sundry.
By following the above principles, government would have saved itself from the different human rights incidents and mitigated on its losses. Human rights defenders are willing and open to providing technical assistance and guidance on these matters.