KAMPALA – The president of Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has accused President Museveni of using the current lockdown over coronavirus to reinvigorate himself politically instead of catering for the plight of the people.
According to Mr Patrick Amuriat, Mr Museveni is also using his weekly addresses to swim into his newly found status instead of looking at the economic plight of the people affected by the lockdown.
“It is therefore sad and unfortunate that beyond this national fight against coronavirus, Mr. Museveni and others are turning the war into political capital, self-aggrandizement and some outrightly looting from the public coffers,” he said.
“Mr. Museveni thinks that he can turn the pandemic into an opportunity to assist him to reverse his declining national approval rating, to divert people’s attention on the nose diving economy and a frightening general election fast approaching as a more awakened population are preparing to make their voices heard against his clique that has suppressed them for over 34 years,” he added.
The FDC president revealed that the lockdown has also given Mr. Museveni an opportunity to declare a de-facto State of Emergency which he is using as much as possible to re-establish his hitherto waning authority and control over the country.
“Many of the 34 restrictions he has so far announced ,come as dictatorial decrees because they are not supported by the necessary constitutional provisions. He has taken over the powers of Parliament and the Judiciary,” Mr Amuriat said.
“In the districts, he has through the hitherto idle RDCs taken over authority beyond that of District Chairpersons and their teams,” he added.
Mr Amuriat instead suggested that as FDC, they suggest that the following economic measures be adopted by the government to cushion the people from the effects of coronavirus.
1. Increment of salaries and allowances for Health workers. The FDC has over the years been indicating to government the need to appreciate our human capital. We have had an exodus of medical experts over the years that have been leaving Uganda after training to go and seek for green pastures elsewhere. This has been happening because of the poor remuneration given to health workers who are essential to any given Country as already evidenced in these COVID -19 trying times. Given the circumstances we are in, and aware that those available have continued to risk their lives in line of duty, there is no other time that government should adopt our proposal to increase their remuneration as an incentive .
2. More food be procured and distributed to the entire country given that the effects of COVID-19 stretch beyond Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono.
But also serious measures must be put in place to improve on the food procurement including quality and distribution and strictly deal with thieving officials who are out to enrich themselves at the expense of the suffering Ugandans who continue to wallow in hunger and anger.
“We advise Ugandans not to die of starvation silently in their homes but to continue demanding for food and other relief items from Mr. Museveni who rightly noted in his address on 14th April 2020, “……the money being mismanaged is your money, your taxes….” It is important that all people stand up to demand for a share of their taxes through food relief and other necessary items,” he said.
3. Government should waive taxes on essential commodities like sugar, soap, salt, fuel.
4. From government reports, our health workers appear to have managed the treatment of those infected by the corona virus and the number of new infections is on the decline. This is commendable .We therefore think some of the measures should to be relaxed to allow for example trading activities without compromising the safety of the citizens by causing overcrowding.
5. There should be deliberate efforts in procuring resources to ensure revitalisation of our primary health units and hospitals including strengthening our referral system. COVID-19 has revealed the fact that even without going out of the country, it is possible to keep alive within the means of our health services if only we could improve more on them.
6. Amendment of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Act. The essence of Social Security is to give assistance to people (savers) during times of dire need. There are no other times challenging in life as a population faced with a life threatening pandemic. NSSF shouldn’t wait to provide “Social Security” to dead people. It is out of this that we request Parliament to immediately amend the NSSF Act to enable release of at least 50% of every persons savings to allow them sustain their families.
7. Rescheduling and reducing interest on loans. While as Bank of Uganda has left decision to offer credit relief to a customer or denial of the same by the Supervised Financial Institutions (SFI) for a maximum of 12 months, we believe the Country is headed for an economic recession. As an immediate measure, Bank of Uganda should work with Financial Institutions to reduce loan interests as many borrowers are likely to operate their businesses at losses for about 2 years and beyond.
8. Government should shoulder payment of Utility bills. As people are locked down in their homes, they are already jobless and least expect any money at the end of the month save for a few working in government. Government should therefore borrow a leaf of what other governments e.g Ghana under President Nana Akufor Ado have done and make a provision to pay utility bills especially electricity and water bills for the next 3 months.
9. Reschedule fees payment and support private schools. As government plans to re-open schools after the lockdown, it’s going to be challenging on school fees payments from already distressed parents. We therefore implore government to facilitate rescheduling of school fees payment and offer financial assistance to privately owned schools to continue operation under this distress.
See full statement below
THE FDC MEDIA BRIEFING MONDAY, APRIL 20, 2020
The Forum for Democratic Change would like to once again express our sincere sympathy and solidarity to all of you because of what you are going through at this moment.
We must continue reminding all of us, again and again that there is still no cure and no vaccine to fight COVID 19.
Therefore, we once again wish to appeal to all of us to continue observing all the measures the experts have announced which are universal and are followed by nations the world over.
We commend the efforts of every one and most especially those at the frontline of battling this deadly pandemic.
Special appreciation and thanks go to our health workers who are directly risking their lives at the war frontline of duty with high levels of professionalism and experience.
It is important to note that all Ugandans are united in this fight against the pandemic irrespective of their various affiliations.
It is therefore sad and unfortunate that beyond this national fight against coronavirus, Mr. Museveni and others are turning the war into political capital, self-aggrandizement and some outrightly looting from the public coffers.
Mr. Museveni thinks that he can turn the pandemic into an opportunity to assist him to reverse his declining national approval rating, to divert people’s attention on the nose diving economy and a frightening general election fast approaching as a more awakened population are preparing to make their voices heard against his clique that has suppressed them for over 34 years.