Opposition gives out food to poor despite Museveni ban

Wednesday April 8 2020

Food relief. A UPDF officer hands over food to

Food relief. A UPDF officer hands over food to a woman in Bwaise, Kawempe Division, on Saturday. Government on Saturday started distributing food poor and vulnerable people in Kampala. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA 

By DAMALI MUKHAYE

Different Opposition leaders have ignored President Museveni’s directive and continued to distribute relief food to poor residents in their constituencies.

President Museveni, during his address to the nation last week, banned politicians who were distributing food to vulnerable people and vowed to have them charged with attempted murder.

Mr Museveni said those who may want to reach out to others should instead channel the items through the Covid-19 taskforce committee headed by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda.

However, Daily Monitor has learnt that Opposition leaders are secretly distributing food to poor residents in their constituencies.

The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party had before the directive started collecting food from their supporters and leaders to be distributed to the poor and vulnerable.

FDC party president Patrick Amuriat said they would not be intimidated by Mr Museveni’s directive since their contribution is noble and does not constitute an offence of attempted murder.

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“[President] Museveni should realise that the fight against Covid-19 must be a joint one. It is not time for politicking since he wants to make everything a one-man’s show. He should have welcomed the move by different Opposition leaders who had offered to give a hand, however small it was,” Mr Amuriat said in telephone interview yesterday.

By last week, Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago had started distributing maize flour and rice through religious leaders.

He donated 1,000kg of maize flour and 600kg of rice to Kibuli Mosque and was expected to distribute more foodstuff to other religions.
Mr Lukwago has, however, changed his strategy. He said he has resorted to distributing food himself, especially to residents in his area who cannot afford a meal.

“We are the elected people, so we know the most venerable people in our communities. We are best suited to do that. Mr Museveni should have just worked on modalities on how the Opposition can give the government a hand and distribute food safely rather than banning us,’’ he said.

Alternative method
Kyandodo East MP and presidential aspirant Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, said he has resorted to using boda boda cyclists to deliver food to different households.

“As you all recall, we had kick-started the process of distributing relief items to some very poor people before the government stopped these activities- even when many of us were deliberate on observing social distancing and other precautions,” he said.

“When this activity was stopped, the question which remained was, what will happen to some of our people, especially those who we have been supporting even before the outbreak of the virus? Every day, we receive calls from hundreds of people requesting for help. We had to find a way of assisting at least a few of them during this period,” he added.

Opposition activist Dr Kizza Besigye had launched an emergency response team in Kampala metropolitan to help transport expectant mothers, elderly and sick children to hospitals using their private cars, but this was frustrated by the president’s ban on use of private cars.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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