By John Oryema
A cholera outbreak is currently roiling parts of Kampala, with several people already succumbing to the disease.
Most affected areas are Rubaga and Makindye, with the scourge seemingly about to spread to other areas.
Why should there be an outbreak of this serious, yet easily preventable illness?
The Museveni regime has released a statement blaming heavy rains, floods, and “high water table” for the latest of several misfortunes to hit poor Ugandans. (Remember Bududa?)
But let’s first parse the meaning of “floods” and “high water table” in this context. Is it only in Uganda where floods happen?
No. But Uganda is one of the few countries where corruption, poor governance, and lack of accountability to the public means the following.
One, funds for infrastructure projects such as drainage systems, canalisation systems, and other measures to avoid the effects of flooding are embezzled. The highest officials of the regime are “untouchables”, unaccountable, and will do whatever they please.
Two, the levels of Ugandan poverty have steeply gone up in the last decades. Yet a lot of government funds will go into importation of police teargas, armored vehicles, water cannons, and the whole anti-people paraphernalia.
Money that should be alleviating the poverty of the people is going into state repression. That means diseases that most affect the poor, like cholera, will be on the increase.
Three, NRM has been bragging forever that it came to solve Uganda’s problems, among the foremost being joblessness. But the “disease” of joblessness has become highly endemic under Kaguta.
Hundreds of thousands of rural poor migrate to Kampala. They end up in vast slums and other informal settlements.
But since very little money goes into disease preventive measures – such as rubbish disposal (a corrupt regime like Museveni’s cares little about such, remember), unclogging drains, proper toilets and so on, slums become highly hazardous places.
Move around the Ugandan capital – to notorious slums like Katwe, Kisenyi, Namuwongo, Kalerwe, Wakaliga, Nsambya, and so many countless others.
Those mountains of rubbish you see? Each is a cholera outbreak waiting to happen.
Welcome to the world that NRM has created!