Dr Stella Nyanzi, Bajjo and several others arrested over food protest

Monday May 18 2020

This photo taken on May 18, 2020 shows Dr

This photo taken on May 18, 2020 shows Dr Stella Nyanzi being arrested near Buganda Road Court, Kampala as she and a group of others attempted to walk to OPM over Covid-19 relief food. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA  

By DAMALI MUKHAYE AND ABUBAKER LUBOWA

Dr Stella Nyanzi, events promoter Andrew Mukasa alias Bajjo and several others have been arrested in Kampala for demonstrating over what they described as “slow distribution” of government relief food to vulnerable people, mostly affected by the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
They were arrested on Monday morning near Buganda Road Court in Kampala as they walked to the Office of the Prime Minister to seek an explanation as to why government had left several people to starve yet several food donations had been made.

According to their petition, many needy Ugandans have up to date not received relief food to help them cope with the lockdown. They attribute this to exclusion of civil society organizations and religious leaders in the distribution exercise. The petitioners claim civil society and religious leaders know their communities better than the security officers currently assigned to distribute the food.

"Many Ugandans have been excluded from the distribution of food relief by a hastily assembled military outfit. Churches, mosque and other civil society institutions that have closer ties and networking within their communities were unfairly denied a chance to help their communities in the time of need and yet they would have been instrumental in mobilising and distributing food with clear guidelines," Dr Nyanzi said before her arrest.

The group under their umbrella body "The Women's Protest Working Group" led by Dr Nyanzi claim the current lockdown only favours wealthier Ugandans and bigger businesses like construction, manufacturing and cargo transport yet the poor and most vulnerable Ugandans are in misery.
"We note that the anti-Covid measures have created an apartheid and occasioned avoidable suffering upon many vulnerable Ugandans especially women and low income earners who scrounge a livelihood in closed spaces, rental markets and other ordinary chores," Dr Nyanzi added.

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The group also asked government to lift the lockdown and adjust the curfew time from 7pm to 9pm in addition to distributing free masks to all Ugandans.

In their petition, the group says government should repatriate all vulnerable Ugandans trapped abroad as opposed to “giving special permission to return only a few privileged citizens, their wives and children while the airport and borders are legally closed.”

By the time of filing this story, it was not yet known what charges police would prefer against those arrested as our repeated calls to Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson and his deputy went unanswered.

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