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Politics

Coronavirus: exposing Museveni’s dysfunctional regime

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President Museveni.

By Moses Ssejjoba

Ugandans on Wednesday woke up to devastating reports from different parts of the country where hospitals decried being weighed down by the lack of medical supply, as the country continues to battle the coronavirus outbreak.

With just a few confirmed cases and some suspected cases, hospitals are already crumbling, leaving Ugandans very concerned of what is to come, as the virus escalates.

Speaking to local media, Dr. Richard Bakamuturaki, the Ntungamo District Health Officer, said they have shortages in medical supplies especially face masks, medical gloves, fuel and vehicles for medical personnel who are trying to trace infected people. In Masindi, things are not any different if not much worse.

According to the medical superintendent of Masindi Hospital, Dr. Felix Twinomugisha, medical personnel are running away from patients because they lack protective gear against the virus. Currently, Masindi Hospital has six people infected with COVID-19, and it is already overstretched.

Other hospitals where there are a number of cases that require constant monitoring, indicated that staff did not even have food to eat to stay at work.

Things are not any different at Mulago Hospital, the national referral which had earlier been touted by Museveni’s hired propagandists like Andrew Mwenda, as being “more than ready to receive COVID-19 patients”.

A video that circulated last week on social media showed an overwhelmed Mulago hospital where medical workers were seen running away from patients because of lack of protective gear.

“Things are extremely worrisome; doctors are not protected, they even fear ordinary patients. This is a time bomb that is going to explode any time,” said a specialized doctor who works at Mulago Referral.

Uganda had by Tuesday March 31, recorded 44 cases of coronavirus. Experts in the medical field think this is a woeful undercount since “ramshackle medical systems” which have been neglected in 34 years of Museveni’s rule cannot be expected to test, and keep track of infected people. A lot of cases have been mishandled before they tested positive. Also, hundreds of people, close to 600 hundred recently arrived from Dubai just bribed their way into Uganda without being tested.

“Even as we speak they are everywhere in the country spreading Coronavirus!” said the Twitter account of one Tadeo Musoke.

Meanwhile, in the absence of government officials in different parts of the country have resorted to collecting money from poor citizens to be able keep hospitals running, after the pleas to the central government were continuously ignored.

“It is appalling that we have had to turn to Ugandans, who were already poor and now are now going without a meal due to the lockdown put in place to contain the virus,” said an RDC speaking on condition of anonymity to be able to speak freely.

Many commentators have termed as a “political embarrassment” both the efforts ostensibly to contain the virus and how the identified cases have been handled, all of which they pinned on President Museveni’s dysfunctional state.

First, as this website and many local news outlets reported, the process was badly bungled at the beginning where the government missed an opportunity to ensure the virus did not permeate into communities.

Potential cases on arrival at Entebbe airport bribed police officers to escape an institutional quarantine, while others were released to their powerful relatives including ministers who intimidated immigration officers. Some of these include a group of Chinese who bribed officials to just enter the country. A number of them have tested positive to the virus.

Meanwhile, all Museveni has done is address almost daily press conferences where, instead of giving a practical direction Ugandans must take to swim through these tough waters, he has only turned them into a podium to attack political opponents.

During his address on Tuesday, Museveni used the opportunity to throw expletives at different Ugandans. These were people who had felt it necessary to join the effort to respond to the outbreak as the state clearly was not up to the task, with police and army violence as its main tool. Museveni called the good Samaritans “fools, idiots, enemies of Uganda, political opportunists”, and many other insults.

“Museveni thinks that people trying to fill the gaping holes in what would be state (public) deliverables, are undermining his power. Yet, it’s clear that he’s running a bankrupt and dysfunctional State,” said Godber Tumushabe, a well known human rights activist.

Out of embarrassment, Museveni accused the patriotic Ugandans who empathized with people affected by the lockdown by donating what they could, of using such gestures “for politics”. But Ugandans know who leads in shamelessly giving political handouts (on cameras) using taxpayers’ money! Tumushabe said, referring to Museveni.

Among high profile Ugandans who responded to the call of duty to help less fortunate fellow citizens was opposition leader Kiiza Besigye. He and his colleagues mobilized resources and put together a response mechanism, complete with ambulances and emergency workers to supplement the national effort.

“People offered ambulances and private vehicles for the purpose. We trained and equipped drivers for the task- taking people to health facilities. We fundraised money for fuel and other inputs,” he said.

However, after only one day of service, in which the offered service worked very well, “Museveni attacked and ridiculed the service and ordered police to stop it!” Besigye said.

He added: “There are some political leaders who tried to distribute food to some desperate urban dwellers, whose sources of income had affected by the pandemic. Police confiscated the food and some people were arrested.”

Museveni, many observed, is not interested in seeking a solution for the suffering Ugandans. This has been exacerbated by his state’s shambolic and completely corrupt bungling that will endanger hundreds of thousands of lives.

Museveni is only angling on how to leverage it to push his capture of Uganda to 40 years.

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