By Amb Henry Mayega
President Yoweri Museveni has made umpteen addresses on how to combat the #Covid-19 pandemic in Uganda, the last of those was on Sunday, September 20, 2020; where he reiterated the need to strictly observe his directives and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Earlier in the year, he issued several directives including the imposition of the curfew, closure of schools, bars, Entebbe airport, national borders, etc which were meant to deter the spread of the disease amongst Ugandans. In the initial stages of the lockdown of the country imposed by the President, success was largely registered as the numbers of #Covid 19 cases were kept at a bare minimum and the reasons for that included but not limited to President Museveni’s superb leadership in the fight against the pandemic as well as the splendid and exquisite vigilance of Ugandans.
Recently, a Medical journal, the Lancet ranked Uganda among top 10 countries in the world in terms of suppressing the spread of #Covid-19 as of August 2020. According to CNN, the ranking was based on the number of new coronavirus cases per million population per day, averaged over the 31 days of August, of countries with sufficient data.
In his most recent address, he reiterated his earlier position namely that Ugandans should observe the SOPs and of course his directives in order to avoid contracting the Covid-19 disease. It is rather bizarre and unfortunate that several people are still failing to heed his wise counsel based on technical advice from medical and other professionals; he has always painstakingly given that counsel in order to stem the debilitating consequences of full-blown spread which are dotted everywhere on the globe. Ugandans, especially those who continue to flout his directives and SOPs ought to realize that his biggest obligation, which he has done perfectly well, is to protect the lives of Ugandans, that job has no other description; it is the epitome of his Presidential mandate.
Ideally, the said SOPs are not many: they are, in an abridged form, observing social distance, wearing masks and regular washing of hands. Now, elements within the recessing opposition have indefatigably and obstinately peddled a rumor in social media that the President was politicizing the management of the pandemic in order to gift himself an edge over his political opponents in the upcoming general elections; that can only be said by someone with a cognitive deficit; this is a global and not an exclusively Ugandan problem whose consequences have dislocated entire national economies. The President is not going to wait for many men and women with myriads of thoughts in order to protect us! He was mandated to run the affairs of state from 2016 – 2021, no other.
This column can ably argue that the SOPs ran into trouble at the implementation stage; motorists, boda boda riders, pedestrians, drinkers etc, have all not heeded the President’s advisories and directives on combating the pandemic; several people are not observing the curfew, they are not wearing masks, they are not washing hands and social distancing is a thing of the past. The police on the other hand are not enforcing President Museveni’s directives to the later.
The president is not going to superintend over each and every citizen in order to protect us; he sets the broad policy guidelines that must be followed to the later. The object of those directives is to protect the lives of Ugandans; that is his primary and utmost responsibility. The soaring #Covid-19 cases are a pointer to the fact that personal caution and responsibility are a must or else we all perish! As a matter of urgency, Ugandans ought to adhere to President Yoweri Museveni’s directives and the SOPs because being fastidious to both will not only save lives but the country’s resources for development purposes as well.
The writer is the Deputy Head of Mission-Uganda Embassy, Beijing, China.