Op-ed By James William Mugeni
USA – 17 November 2020: Covid-19 has demystified claims that President Kaguta T. Yoweri Museveni has often made before us about the “Revolutionary war”.
He claims the war brought peace and stability in Uganda.
The war generals including the Commander in Chief of the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) on many occasions assured Ugandans “Ensi Egulwa Emilambo Uganda”, a “country curved out of bloodbath”—because of the gorilla war he fought against past regimes.
This Ensi Egulwa Emilambo made President Museveni invisible as in every argument or debate he ends up taking Ugandans through his war path.
At the beginning of Covid-19 in March this year, Museveni snatched “standard pandemic response” from medics when he fronted the military as responders while he rubbished the medical professional.
Comparing Covid-19 to a war, initial effort was all militarized with soldiers managing hospitals.
This badly and only worked before his corrupt systems set in. The SOPs haphazardly introduced were laced with scandal after scandals. Being a disease that nobody knew, the response was good with community participations and involvement.
Communities (Ugandans and foreign investors) joined Covid-19 relief effort with donations of all kinds. With corruption and poor accountability, soon the communities lost trust of those running national efforts as despondency set in.
The military effort itself fell short of standards. Instead of health education, the military men and women were enforcing the guidelines later named “the president’s guidelines”.
Different groups started exploiting the gaps in the guidelines as most of them turned out to be guidelines designed to entrench the president into power and to favor his 2021 presidential bid.
As I write today, we are entering a possible Covid-19 upsurge with a population that does not trust and believe any authority.
The required standard pandemic response guidelines as enforced by the military are lacking credibility across the country. They are perceived with suspicion as medical people are not even anywhere in the picture.
The presidential election campaigns are likely to expose the Uganda medical profession that was used for political mileage because they chose to play the Museveni political game over the pandemic.
Now is the time to see Uganda’s true pandemic response bearing in mind the medics subscribed to tear gas and guns as a profession, and they have failed to demand for developing a true pandemic response.
With political campaigns, one needs to see that every district has a capacity to handle Covid-19 minus referrals.
The medics accepted to be manipulated and feared taking bold steps but instead watched local defense units (LDUs) run down populations into helpless destitutes.
Every district in Uganda has gun wielding military team whose work is to hold desperate populations at home wallowing in poverty.
The president who often responds even to landslides with an AK47 or donning full combat uniform in floods, is totally out witted as his only weapon is the military against a dilapidated medical system.
If Covid-19 now strikes properly, the young people have him in a tight corner where he must respond to challenges thrown at him with masses of young people on campaign trails putting his ailing political teams locked under directives of a quasi-ministry of health directives or WHO.
Stocked with tear gas, armoured men are unleashing tear gas from village to village as if it is a medical gas, but young people have become immune to tear gas and are moving on.
Armed with phone cameras, even the mighty military now fears young people who often capture and share images of the military to the rest of the world with an appeal for change.
Change cannot wait, “we want change chants fill the air”. Museveni who perhaps thinks politically he should use the Covid-19 situation to create fear in the young population who are demanding for change, has it wrong as it has backfired.
The young people led by Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine have hit the campaign trail, that is unstoppable and if there is a better description of Ensi Egulwa Emilambo, Covid-19, or not, there could be a bloodbath Uganda in the making.
Museveni is doing campaigns with, among others his hospital convoy, with every amenity and has a defenseless population running after him without any SOPs.
His military team fully equipped with breathing apparatus, one wonders if this gas throwing men are not instead throwing poison into populations.
The military is held with such low regard as they brutalize helpless populations as Covid-19 response that requires people to stay home, avoid crowding and observe social distance is getting its best testing ground of SOPs in Uganda.
The government of Uganda seems to have defrauded the scientific world; Museveni’s exertion of the military as in-charge of the Covid-19 response is perhaps born out of fear of exposure and seen as a trick among others to make money from IMF.
As a war General in charge of Uganda, he seems to be running out of options; but he is going to do anything to protect his power base. I do not think the military is only throwing tear gas into the populations but sowing a disease that will only require Museveni to be in power.
The USA that has populations ravaged by Covid-19 does not use the police or the military to run after them. For Uganda’s case, you have a classic example of a country that just wants to ride on the general Covid-19 pandemic as a mean to an end.
Tanzania had elections during the same pandemic period without restrictions. USA just had another election and Ugandans are quick to point at these elections in the Covid-19 period.
As for Uganda, this is more than just an election but a generation of young people who comprise of 85% under the age of 35; taking risks to change a president who has lived through a whole generation of their lives without a secured future.
Museveni must go is their slogan. In other words, the Revolutionary General is no longer an asset.
The author is a Medical Clinical Officer/Certified Manager
Phone: +1 515-346-5317
Disclaimer: The author owns views/opinion expressed in this publication.