Besigye scoffs at govt Covid response, offers alternatives

Politician Kizza Besigye addresses the media at his offices on Katonga Road in Kampala yesterday. PHOTO | RACHEL MABALA 

What you need to know:

  • Covid response. “The current Covid-19 wave ravaging the country is the result of the lost control of transmission, progressive decline of people’s immunity and at least five new variants of the virus that are more aggressive,” Dr Kiiza Besigye, former presidential candidate.

Political leader Dr Kizza Besigye yesterday attributed the surging Covid-19 infections in the country to absence of good policies and national plan to manage pandemics. 

Dr Besigye, who addressed a press conference at his offices on Katonga Road in Kampala, outlined alternatives that can be used to fight back in the face of a pandemic that has so far killed 1,023 people in the country. 

The number of new Covid infections have been increasing since the beginning of this month. As of June 28, more than 79,000 cases had been registered in the country.

Dr Besigye blamed the government for leading a political and partisan approach in handling Covid as opposed to creating a strategic plan to manage and control the pandemic better.

“Since Covid-19 was first confirmed in Uganda in March 2020, there has been strong concern on its management. These concerns were generally ignored or, even, ridiculed by government,” Dr Besigye said. 

“Uganda reached stage 3 of Covid-19 transmission in June 2020 and the 4th and last stage, wide-scale community transmission by August and September 2020. That meant that Uganda had, by that time, lost the battle of tracing and controlling the spread of the disease,” Dr Besigye added. 

He said the main reasons for the early loss of transmission control is traced to the wrong framework and structures and poor planning and implementation. 

He said there is an urgent need for a plan for managing the current crisis, which should be presented to Parliament, adding that it should include immediate social welfare support for vulnerable people. 

“The current Covid-19 wave ravaging the country is the result of the lost control of transmission, progressive decline of people’s immunity and at least five new variants of the virus that are more aggressive, ”Dr Besigye said. 

He added: “Regrettably, because of the weaknesses outlined, the second wave came when the government preparedness was not much different from March 2020 and when the population had become much more vulnerable.” 

Dr Besigye said the social welfare support plan that should be presented before Parliament should include food, rent, water, energy, and medical.  

He said the Shs100,000 government plans to give to more than 500,000 vulnerable households is not enough. 

The Lord Mayor of Kampala, Mr Erias Lukwago, who accompanied Dr Besigye, among other top party officials, proposed that each household should at least be given Shs260,000. 

He attacked government for excluding local leadership in identification of Covid-19 cash beneficiaries. 

On other alternatives, Dr Besigye asked government to set up a legal and institutional framework, saying if the management of Covid-19 continues to depend on political management, the infection will continue to ravage the country. 

He said the pandemic is supposed to be headed by a senior medical officer who is equivalent of the director general services.

Dr Besigye said the Covid-19 response is being headed by the Prime Minister and the Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) 

“We pointed out at the onset that circumstances created by the pandemic, which threatened the economic life and public safety of our country necessitated a declaration of a State of Emergency, provided for under Article 110 of Uganda Constitution,” Dr Besigye said. 

“This would have offered Parliament (and the country) an opportunity to scrutinise and approve a plan for managing the emergency and for monitoring the implementation of such a plan,” Dr Besigye added. 

Right from the onset, Dr Besigye said it was necessary to have and widely share a plan that dealt with controlling the spread of the virus, monitoring the Covid-19 transmission, increasing healthcare facilities, workers and their motivation. 

Dr Besigye also stressed that there is need for research on pandemics including the mutations, medicines, and vaccines. 

The Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development, Ms Betty Amongi, on Tuesday said officials from the Uganda National Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) and the town clerks would conduct registration of beneficiaries in Kampala metropolitan, cities and in municipalities.               

However, according to Mr Lukwago, Ubos, the Ministry of Gender and town clerks do not have the capacity to identify the most vulnerable groups in various communities.