A section of formal workers on Sunday took to social media to air their disgust after the National Response Covid-19 Fund made an appeal asking them to donate Shs10, 000 each, to compliment government’s efforts in the fight against coronavirus.
“We are appealing to 1.5 million formally employed workers, through their CEOs to donate about Shs10, 000 each for the months of May and June and we hope that the company can match that 10,000 donation from each of his employees. We think that could raise us about Shs30 billion. The Shs15 billion could come directly from the 1.5 million employees and if the companies were so gracious enough to match, that would get us another Shs15 billion to get to Shs30 billion,” said Mr Patrick Mweheire, the chairman Fundraising Subcommittee National Response Fund to Covid-19 which was established by President Museveni to mobilise resources from the private sector to supplement an already strained Ministry of Health in its combat against the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the committee which has a target of Shs17 billion and headed by Minister in Charge of General Duties, Mary Karooro Okurut, every single contribution will go a long way “as we try to raise more funds for personal protection gear, testing kits and support materials for medical teams on the frontline. We wish to extend.”
The minister was quick to note that “whatever comes in is voluntary. You cannot at all force anybody to give a contribution. It is voluntary.”
However, several Ugandans seemed irritated by the appeal and took to social media to fight back.
However, the appeal provoked mixed reactions from members of the public, especially salaried workers.
Below is a sample of the concerns from social media:
“The government has refused to relieve us of PAYE, Corporate taxes, our salaries have been cut, companies have closed, they are swindling money in the treasury by way of allocating MPs free millions of shillings, we are grappling to feed our families having lost our jobs or part of our salaries and they have the audacity to ask us again to contribute? These are bloodsuckers,” said a one, Patrick.
Another social media user only identified as Otim said: “We need to tell off with a straight face, both Ladit Katongole and Ladit Mweheire, that we reject their creepy moves to rob wananchi. They should stop their long thieving fingers and disguising as agents of robbers, who will use our small coins to enrich themselves and cronies in the name of Covid-19!”
For Ephraim, the committee members have failed to understand the situation at hand.
“How can you begin begging already strained companies?” he asked.
Ms Evelyn Lirri tweeted: “In Lord Mayor Lukwago's voice: Mujooga basajja mwe.”
"Unbelievable, can we first get proper accountability for the voluntary donations government has received. Is it a crime to be in formal employment that on top of all the contribution we make through taxes, they want more? Disappointed but relieved face Damn!" tweeted Brenda Asiimwe.
Micheal Amooti said: ‘Are people working. . I thought we are in lockdown. We need to liberate our country from such a useless suggestions. U recently borrowed money from IMF use that."
“Total rubbish! The Gov't is giving out 40 million to MPs, rather than use that money! Then they turn around and ask the most vulnerable to contribute Shs10,000," said Higiro Japhet.
"At this point, 2 months into lockdown, regular middle income peeps are in DMs begging for just 10k to buy food to feed themselves. These same people have been paying taxes through PAYE, every time they purchase a beer, etc. Now how can they be asked to donate to government? How?" Anne Whitehead said.
Donating is okay
"I don't have a problem with it because giving back Shs10, 000 to someone who needs it is a good gesture," Eve said.
For Christine, Shs10,000 is little money that every salaried worker would be able to pay.
"We put on expensive things and hold very expensive phones. We shouldn't mind about where the money is going or fear that it will be stolen," she said.
"Donations are not forced. Giving is from someone's heart," said Mr Emmanuel Katongole who chairs the committee.
According to Mr Katongole, those earning and are not in big distress can contribute.
Museveni to address nation
Hours after the appeal, Senior Presidential press secretary, Mr Don Wanyama said President Museveni will on Monday (May 18) address Ugandans on government’s efforts in the fight against Covid-19.
The 8pm address will be preceded with a Cabinet meeting that will agree on way forward as 14-day lockdown extension comes to an end, according to Mr Wanyama.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the country have risen to 227 after 24 people tested positive to the virus on Saturday.
The new cases include 14 Kenyans, six Tanzanians and four Ugandans who entered the country through Elegu, Mutukula and Malaba points of entry.
This brings the total number of truckers who have tested positive for 168, which is more than half of the confirmed cases in the country.
The 24 cases were part of 2,044 samples that were tested on Saturday at both the Mutukula points of entry using the Genexpert machines and Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI).
On Saturday, President Museveni issued new directives to cross-border cargo truck drivers. According to the directives, only those who test negative for COVID-19 will be allowed to enter the country.
In addition, all Ugandan truck drivers will also have to undergo COVID-19 tests.
Previously, truck drivers were allowed to proceed with their journey after their samples had been taken.
Whenever the results turned positive, the drivers would be followed up and quarantined.