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Museveni, using brutality to enforce your Covid-19 measures is counterproductive

President Museveni.

By Moses Ssejjoba

While speaking at the second national prayer service dedicated towards fighting the spreading of coronavirus, President Museveni on Saturday dropped a bombshell.

He told a group of senior clerics from different religious denominations that he has no regrets of using coercive means to ensure Ugandans observe the measure in place ostensibly to curtail the virus. “I am very much in support of using obukambwe (brutality) in enforcing these measures because this is how we shall defeat this virus,” he told the religious leaders.

Museveni, like during many of his briefings on Covid-19, which have been carried live on national television, went on to personalize the response towards the virus. He made the case for brutality following a grisly incident that took place mid last week in Masaka town, where two innocent Ugandans – including a pregnant woman – were killed by one of his gun-totting goons.

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The incident in Masaka went viral across the country and beyond in a one-minute video that shows a man carrying his visibly heavily pregnant wife on a motorcycle being shot at close range by a military personnel. In the video, the man falls off the motorcycle the moment he is shot, and then the woman is seen falling off head first.

Her husband died on the spot, while the woman was rushed to a nearby hospital but was later pronounced dead. It has since been established that the couple was coming from a clinic from where the man had taken his wife after she developed complications.

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Under the lockdown rules, motorcycles are not allowed to carry passengers. For Museveni’s security goons, however, this is license to practice unspeakable brutality upon innocent Ugandans. Then he boasts even in church, when innocent people have lost their lives to thugs empowered to commit brutal abuses!

This is beyond the pale even from a man that lives by the sword. Executing a man, his wife and their unborn child is another plunge into unfathomable lawlessness.

This news website has since established that the soldier, identified as Robert Muyanga, is attached to the Reserve Force in Masaka. “All Ugandans expected Museveni to condemn this violence during the prayer service he hosted ironically on the same weekend the world celebrated Mother’s Day. But what did he do? He instead advocated for more brutality against Ugandans,” said a disgusted commentator.

The Masaka incident is not an isolated one.

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Examples of such crimes against civilians have been happening on a daily basis. So-called law enforcers have exploited the lockdown to exercise utmost criminality with utmost impunity. “There have been several reports of soldiers, policemen and LDUs breaking into people’s homes, raping women and stealing property; I am afraid Museveni’s open advocacy for brutality will only make things worse for Ugandans,” added the commentator.

Since Museveni has continued to personalize the response to the coronavirus outbreak, he should also take responsibility to all these gross human rights abuses Ugandans continue to go through, people are saying.

According to an epidemiologist using coercive measures, or “obukambwe” as Museveni put it, will not help in any way in stopping the spread of the virus. “During pandemics like this, you need the cooperation of the people. The more information you get, the best you are in position to institute measures that will help you respond better to that problem. You don’t do that by instilling fear in people,” said the medic.

Read also: Coronavirus: exposing Museveni’s dysfunctional regime

Meanwhile, many experts have warned that this obsession by Museveni to take credit for all perceived gains made in this fight only spells disaster. This is because the same obsession has come with covering up the number of cases tested, misleading the world, when in fact they are only deceiving themselves.

Medics observe that Museveni’s gaffes have made it possible for the virus to spread in communities far more than should have been the case. Now for a country where every response effort towards the virus was built on a lie, Uganda has disaster in-waiting.

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The hardworking, poorly remunerated frontline workers whose lives are on the line, generate accurate reports from the ground, which are then turned around to suit a political narrative. Everyone who works on the frontline knows Uganda is living a lie constructed for the president’s purposes. The number of cases we report is far fewer than those who are positively diagnosed; the tracing system is deeply flawed; and the number of tests carried out is grossly inflated, frontline workers disclose.

Museveni should stop thinking about the next election, and think of the situation at hand, which is a pandemic that so far has been spectacularly mishandled.


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