It is about 70 days since Members of Parliament passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (AHB) in Uganda. President Museveni has signed it into law. Donors are scrambling to cut aid. Uganda is back in the news for the wrong reasons. And everyone has an opinion on the subject.
While we were busy publicly discussing sex styles, pushing the envelop of decorum to double-check which ‘address’ we were aiming for, putting our mouths where, um, our sick minds had been, here are a few things that happened. They are randomly selected, and in no particular order.
* We heard that about Shs40 billion of your taxes and mine given to the Presidential Initiative on Bananas is missing. This was always going to be an exercise in modern-day alchemy; what large global market is out there for banana flour? Why not spend it on coffee or tourism?
* Government asked for somewhere between Shs120 – 200 billion to pay for the costs of deploying the UPDF in South Sudan. Funny, because a South Sudanese minister said his government was paying all the bills. No questions: the a la carte menu in this cafeteria is classified!
* President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Paul Kagame of Rwanda flew into Entebbe and used their national identity cards to clear through immigration. How ironic, seeing that despite hundreds of billions of shillings and 30 years later (the regime first mooted the plan in 1987) we have no national IDs. Foreigners can use their IDs to enter Uganda. Ugandans can’t.
* A report by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament offered insights into who bore responsibility for the widespread theft and misuse of money meant to help the people of northern Uganda find their feet and rebuild their lives after two decades of war. It hardly got a mention in many newspapers. It was Other People’s Money. Eaten by cadres.
* The examinations body released the O-Level results. Some 25,000 students failed. Many of those who passed would struggle to pass a urine test, let alone a Standard Five numeracy and literacy exam from other parts of the world. It didn’t stop parents and candidates celebrating. Newspapers found space for the joyous scenes.
* The police said it would recruit 3,500 extra officers for the 2016 elections. No word on the special constables recruited at the last elections and who, infamously, left their marks on the toilet walls, and beyond, of Mandela National Stadium, Namboole. No word, either, on why the police would spend Shs16 million per recruit over six months of training when it takes a police constable more than four years to earn that as a salary.
* About 16 women die every day in Uganda while giving birth because of poor medical care and facilities. In the 70 days since MPs passed the AHB, 1,120 Ugandan mothers have died. Babies not included.
* There are conflicting statistics on malaria but former Health Minister Christine Ondoa gave a figure of 100,000 fatalities every year, many of them children. So using that figure, in the 70 days since MPs passed the AHB, 19,178 Ugandans have died of treatable and preventable malaria. Don’t ask me how many of them were gay. I don’t know. Does it matter?
* Finally, police figures show that 20 women are raped every day in Uganda. These are just the cases that are reported so the figure could be twice as high, if not more. But let’s stick to that figure. In the 70 days since MPs passed the AHB, 1,400 women and girls have been raped in Uganda.
Well done, Uganda. Well done.
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