Lawmakers condemn closure of Mulago intensive care unit

Saturday November 3 2012

By Raymond Mpubani

Sometimes, MPs put aside breaking the rules that govern Parliament to approve ministerial appointments they had rejected and awarding themselves allowance increments, to, well, do that thing of pretending to care about the people. This week they did that by “condemning the closure of the Intensive Care Unit at Mulago hospital.”
Five people had by press time died after Mulago, Uganda’s largest referral hospital, closed down its ICU due to the breakdown of equipment. It’s a curious decision, and screams negligence: how was it allowed to get to that point? Equipment does not get old in one day; what have we been doing all along? It all comes down to priorities, anyway. Our President must have a jet before we equip the substandard buildings we are erecting across the country and then naming ‘Health Centre IV.’ Then, he’ll order the treasury to get him fighter toys (feared by mountains the world over). And then Parliament: we should stuff it with more leeches from the districts we don’t tire of creating, buy them new cars and increase their allowances. Mulago ICU; who the heck cares about that? That’s why their hypocrisy is grating; they don’t care, and should stop insulting those who must pay because of them.

Amama apologises to Ireland over theft in his office

In case you missed it, Amama Mbabazi offered an apology for the creative accounting (also known as theft) that some officials in his office perpetrated.
The money stolen was meant for, among other things (like paying high salaries to corrupt officials in Amama Mbabazi’s office), reconstruction programmes in northern Uganda and Karamoja. Although this newspaper broke the scam in July, and has continued to harp on it, it was not until last week that the Ugandan Prime Minister came out to “apologise.”
But, who was he apologising to? The Daily Monitor? Nah, not those pot stirrers! The government bulletin, which has perfected shouting, multi-colored headlines? None of those. Instead, he gave his apology to an Irish radio, owned by that nation’s government.
You all get it? The hand dipping in your office gets out of hand, livelihoods that were supposed to be propped up instead go downhill, your nation’s media gets wind of it and what do you do? Apologise to the Irish (who, by the way, had donated part of the stolen money): “I regard it as intolerable that any development assistance should be misappropriated or diverted.” What next; delivering the State of the Nation address on Irish national TV?

Media Council suspends critical play

The law establishing the Media Council states that it can “censor films, videotapes, plays and other related apparatuses for public consumption.” Just that; it is probably stated elsewhere, not their website from which that, what determines if a play, videotape or film is fit for public consumption, although the fact that I can stroll to town and buy a pornographic movie with no fuss, on the street, in broad day light, means we should rule out pornographic films and videotapes.
This week, that Council, apparently at the behest of the Uganda Police, decided to suspend a play it had earlier given a go-ahead “pending a review of its script.”
In an October 15 review of the banned play, State of the Nation, the Daily Monitor said the play “sardonically shows what has become of the country from Independence to the Jubilee celebrations.
Phillip Luswata acts as a war veteran who keeps on lamenting about the fight that was in vain.”
That is bad, Uganda Police decided. And since they could not drown it in tear gas, spray pepper into it’s eyes and bundle it under the seat of a truck, they bullied the Media Council to suspend it. Dolts and cowards, both of them, but then we always knew it.



European donors suspend aid over corruption

So these donors are not only irresponsible; they are also very slow. We have known all along that the Office of the Prime Minister has been housing heartless thieves. Yet, somehow, despite repeated press coverage, it wasn’t until about a week ago that they realised some of the stolen money could have been part of what they donate to Uganda and started throwing fits. Denmark, Ireland and Britain then went ahead to freeze financial “assistance” to the Ugandan government.
Ideally, actions like that should force our government to finally, after innumerable assurances from our leaders, get serious about dealing with graft. That means treating each accusation seriously, blacklisting accused officials instead of the usual pat on the hand and then bah, transfer to another ministry.
Yet, what is going to happen, what usually happens, is that the government will apologise to the donors and then promise action against the perpetrators (a public apology has been issued by the Political head of that office), half-hearted actions will be taken against the small fish, while the big fish will get away. The donors, satisfied, will then start giving us financial “assistance” again. Well, until Daily Monitor breaks the next scandal.