By James William Mugeni
United States of America—28, May 2020: EDITOR, it’s sad to note that when we have national emergencies, it becomes a time for some people to bring out their worst. How can someone in the Office of the Prime Minister be documented as a thief of posho during Covid-19? Does this person represent the image of the Prime Minister’s Office?
Adverse conditions have set man into innovations. The internet was created to ease communication. In some countries, helicopters are [created] to airlift and drop armies and supplies to the front liners.
The food industry turned foods into food supplements. You cannot ignore innovations at these crucial moments, and you talk of modernity. The internet and technology being servant to man.
These changes are driven mostly by technology. Now Uganda’s Covid-19 moments have indeed exposed us. Let me highlight a few things that surely defeats one’s understanding that you wonder if we are up to any task. We have systems in Uganda where taxpayer’s money has been swindled for years and this has disappointed us when we need them most.
It is so nice to see how the entire country is responding to Covid-19, but alas! Why should systems that the country has invested in heavily for years not measure up to the tasks at hand?
The national ID systems, for example, why wouldn’t anyone use the 18 million Ugandans so registered at the electoral commission as adults to lay food distribution strategies? All Ugandans have registered places of abode that can be used for food distribution. When an opportunity for national registration of citizens came, people looked at it for elections only. Where can one get quick data for planning and use if not with the electoral commission? These are emergency measures.
The data base at the electoral commission has been messed up with for years as the data is only used for rigging elections. Everyone, including the government in place, has testified to fraud at the electoral commission and nobody has ever cared about this.
Time to use data at the electoral commission is now, and the owners of that data cannot stand the test of time before Ugandans in an emergency.
Then, Uganda Revenue Authority. Why would the data system at URA not be used to determine incomes as tax revenue tells a lot about economic status of people in the country? The U.S has used tax returns to send stimulus packages to everyone who filed tax returns and determined who gets what amount based on tax returns.
The stimulus cheque is received by all of us through our banks and all you know your account has been credited and your bank sends you a notification. No stampeding. Tax collectors are people you relate with that you just can’t fail to bail them in times of need.
Uganda Bureau of Statistics [UBOS], why would you fail to generate data to help the country in the forecast and know exactly how many children, women, men are living in Uganda by age, sex, and economic statuses? The U.S has used birth certificates and child social security numbers to send every registered child in the U.S money either to the mother, father or guardian of the child.
The Food and Agricultural [FAO]. We have talked about value addition and so many things like that; we get matooke packed in boxes from Uganda to the U.S but for now we can’t get matooke packed to different districts of Uganda? Why are we driving lorries of bunches of matooke from Mbarara to Kampala, then sending them back for distribution back to Mbarara?
So, what is the relevance of the district task force that food must leave the districts to Kampala, then back to the districts who are not thinking around the President through the executive orders? We just can’t have systems malfunctions at these hard times.
Food distribution in Uganda could follow well established The Aids Support Organization [TASO] systems. TASO has distributed food throughout Uganda. All districts of Uganda for now over 4 decades know TASO for efficiency. Anyone who wants to distribute food, the TASO system is a blueprint in Uganda.
There is hardly any family in Uganda that has not been touched by HIV/AIDS, maybe the reasons we have the UNAIDS Executive Director as an Ugandan Engineer, Winnie Byanyima.
Then my fellow Ugandans stop surrounding the President as people with disability when the President calls for a press briefing. Why would he only have an audience? There is only one minister who asks questions, and she seems to be the only person with ideas that propels her to ask questions?
I don’t think as a country we have only the President in this Covid-19 time. The President must listen. We are in this thing with him and each of us is responsible and contributes to the national efforts. Nobody is not faced with this salient death and everyone must think through.
Evil people predict dead bodies on the streets of Africa, and why do you want to justify this? The challenges America or Europe is facing are simply because these economies don’t have social systems that we so enjoy in Africa. You can stimulate social systems if well managed and we defeat Covid-19.
Why would thieves stand out other than leadership in times of a crisis? Why would anyone horde so much food starting with the prime minister’s office?
The media, why is your role not to highlight the lockdown scientifically but sensationalism? True journalists investigate, offer referrals, follow referrals and ensure that responsible people are answering hard questions; you don’t leave stories in suspense because you stimulate and demand for solutions.
Covid-19 is a pandemic and each country must have their own approach. However, some approaches can be shared based on similarity. We have all sent students home from schools and here is how the U.S has done it. Some schools have closed for the entire year, but teaching is ongoing, and it is online.
Schools have remained responsible for students to the extent that some schools are feeding their students. There are feeding centers I guess Churches; schools in Uganda can be used for relief efforts.
Finally, Ugandans as I type this, the United States of America has [updated on 28 May 2020] 1,528, 235 total cases, 1,056,911 active cases, and more than 100,000 deaths. The United States loses an average of 2000 people daily.
As a frontline health worker, I applaud the work you have done as a country; it is a tremendous job but let this not be because you are lucky and attributing it to GOD. Be scientific, the Covid-19 period is not over, you will break your system if you don’t set systems as people facing a disaster. Covid -19 moments is 24/7, people think throughout and systems are changed every time and then.
The author is a Medical Clinical Officer/Certified Public Manager based in the U.S