I bring you greetings and I hope that all of you are persevering through these hard times. These are very tough times indeed, not only because of the Coronavirus pandemic but most importantly because of the suffering it is causing to every individual, especially the common people.
We maintain our position that the measures being put in place by the government to curb the spread of the virus are necessary- in any case, most countries have already adopted similar measures, and we hope they will yield results in a short time.
Our hope is that the regime will not take advantage of this crisis to further clamp down on human rights, plunder our nation’s resources and seek to further entrench itself in power.
Secondly, what we do not agree with is the fact that the Museveni government has largely focused on restrictions but has not put in place measures to make life bearable for the poor people of Uganda.
As this crisis rages, we must not forget that for a very long time we have been making demands to better the lives of our people. That would have prepared our country for a time such as this! We have for long demanded that instead of spending the bulk of our taxpayers’ money on enriching themselves and crushing voices of dissent, the government should invest massively in healthcare. Of course, they did not listen.
Yesterday, news outlets reported that even with the few positive cases of #COVID19 reported so far, the few available health facilities are already strained. Most of us have seen videos of our poor people groaning in pain in hospitals. We must, therefore, work very hard to curb the spread of this disease. If it spreads further, our poor healthcare system will be completely crushed and so many people can easily die.
On the economy, President Museveni and his regime have deliberately impoverished our people. We have an economy where most of them live hand to mouth. Many of them are unemployed! Most families do not have savings to even take them for two days- they only work for today’s meal.
Ever since this crisis started about 12 days ago, I have received hundreds of people seeking for help. Two days ago, we distributed food items to many impoverished people in Kamwokya, Kawempe, Kyadondo East Constituency and other parts of Wakiso. Fellow leaders also distributed food in areas of Luwero, Mityana, Mubende, etc, and I want to salute them for the kind hearts.
Despite all our interventions, it remained clear that the need was much bigger than the help we were giving.
We had now rolled out a program of distributing food relief to all parts of this country through our coordinators. That effort was meant to begin today. Hundreds of our supporters in Uganda and the diaspora had offered to come in with assistance in cash and in-kind.
In our relief efforts, we have been very deliberate to observe the guidelines given by health experts.
Now, afraid of the effects of a hungry population, Museveni, in yet another ridiculous move, banned our relief activities and declared that anyone who continues to give food relief would be charged with attempted murder!! This is an absurdity like no other. Our view is that if Museveni was not doing this for political reasons, he would have instructed the ministry of health to put in place standard operating procedures so that our efforts to help our people continue but in a manner that does not cause threats to health.
Now, the people of Uganda, especially the poor and needy are demanding that the government comes out with measures to ensure they do not starve to death during this period. So many other countries are taking such measures and are helping their needy people. This regime has stolen enough from our people- the least they can do is come to the aid of Ugandans at this hour of need.
Finally, let me repeat my strong condemnation of some elements within security who have made it their pleasure to beat and humiliate the people of Uganda. We have all been watching videos (which are actually hard to watch) of LDUs and other elements brutalizing people in the name of enforcing the measures instituted to curb #COVID19. We have also seen so many reports of extortion by security elements. This must stop. Pro-people security forces can work with civilian authorities to enforce the measures without resorting to extreme brutality. We pay security forces to protect us and not to torture us.
Kyagulanyi Ssentamu-Bobi Wine (MP)
Leader of the People Power Movement