Coronavirus: Is the President’s smile at Ugandan doctors fake?

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President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

The coronavirus pandemic has strengthened the already severing relationship between the Ugandan Government and the medical workers’ community.

The president of the Republic of Uganda has severally applauded the health ministry and its workers for their effort in handling the coronavirus pandemic. In his recent speech to the nation delivered on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, the head of state verbally expressed gratitude to all the medical workers, calling them “frontrunners” in the fight against COVID-19. 

 A step back: Health workers and the government 

The Uganda Medical Association (UMA) has been in standoffs with the government over unanswered requests to raise doctors’ salaries. In some instances, patients were left to lay in the hospitals unattended to. On November 6, 2017 doctors put their tools down for about three weeks over the government’s failure to meet their demands for an increase of allowances and salaries.

The government reacted by announcing it would fly in some 200 Cuban doctors to help with the medical emergency, something the UMA body and its members disapproved of. Each imported doctor from the Island country, according to sources would be paid about $1,500, while their Ugandan counterparts earn UgX 4.5m per month.

The health minister, Dr. Ruth Aceng, and her team had to fly to Cuba at some point to make negotiations. In the end, the plan to bring in the 200 medical recruits from Cuba was put on hold following a series of talks between the health ministry and government.

What’s the future of the relationship after coronavirus?

Apparently, the health ministry has the back of both the government and the broader public, but we are not sure if this will continue even after the pandemic is defeated. According to the budget allocation for this financial year, the ministry’s budget is now at 2.7 trillion shillings a slight increase from the last fiscal year. The new budget arrangement could still see the ministry receive additional funding depending on the status of the medical emergency.

Why are Cuban doctors willing to come and work in Uganda?

Cuba, through its Cuban healthcare “brigades,” has been sending doctors abroad to bridge gaps in the medical systems of countries for decades. Following the outbreak of coronavirus in March, Italy, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Suriname, and a bunch of other countries invited the team to offer help with the coronavirus fight. The Cuban healthcare brigades project was initiated by the Cuban government to support its struggling economy, but also extend cheap medical services to some of the underserved parts of the world.

Cuba has a track record of providing excellent pharmaceutical and biomedical services worldwide, although the US criticizes the overseas labor mobility project, calling it “politically driven”

In some countries, the services are offered at no cost, while in most cases the supported governments pay for the services.

Cuban medical workers back home are some of the least paid medical professionals on earth given the difficult economic situation inflicted by the US trade blockade. It is reported that most doctors working in the country earn just about $60 per month.

Do you think the government is truly happy with the health workers and could potentially address their longstanding grievances due to the demonstrable effort of the health ministry in fighting coronavirus? Leave a comment.

IFAD Earmarks US$40 to Farmers During COVID-19 Crisis.

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The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), one of MAAIF development partner organizations has earmarked US$40 to help prevent rural food crisis in awake of COVID-19.

This was communicated in a press statement issued today by Mr. Gilbert F. Houngbo the IFAD President based in Rome-Italy. Currently, IFAD is in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries on National Oil Palm Project (NOPP).

Full statement;

Rome, 20 April 2020 – With the COVID-19 pandemic and economic slowdown threatening the lives and livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people, the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) today committed US$40 million, and launched an urgent appeal for additional funds, to support farmers and rural communities to continue growing and selling food.

IFAD’s new multi-donor fund, the COVID-19 Rural Poor Stimulus Facility, will mitigate the effects of the pandemic on food production, market access and rural employment. As part of the broader UN socio-economic response framework, the Facility will ensure that farmers in the most vulnerable countries have timely access to inputs, information, markets and liquidity. On top of its own contribution, IFAD aims to raise at least $200 million more from Member States, foundations and the private sector.

“We need to act now to stop this health crisis transforming into a food crisis,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD. “The fallout from COVID-19 may push rural families even deeper into poverty, hunger and desperation, which is a real threat to global prosperity and stability. With immediate action, we can provide rural people with the tools to adapt and ensure a quicker recovery, averting an even bigger humanitarian crisis.”

With their movements restricted to contain further spread of the virus, many small-scale farmers are unable to access markets to sell produce or to buy inputs, such as seeds or fertilizer. Closures of major transport routes and export bans are also likely to affect food systems adversely. As entire production chains are disrupted and unemployment rises, the most vulnerable include daily labourers, small businesses and informal workers, who are very often women and young people. The return of workers from cities affected by lockdowns will put further strain on rural households, which will also stop receiving much needed remittances.

About 80 percent of the world’s poorest and most food insecure people live in rural areas. Even before the outbreak, more than 820 million people were going hungry every day. A recent United Nations University study warned that in a worst-case scenario, the economic impact of the pandemic could push a further half-billion people into poverty.

“This pandemic is threatening the gains we have made in reducing poverty over the past years. To avoid serious disruption to rural economies, it is essential to ensure agriculture, food chains, markets and trade continue to function,” said Houngbo.

“A majority of the world’s most impoverished people are already suffering the consequences of climate change and conflict. An economic downturn in rural areas could compound these effects, generating more hunger and increasing instability, especially in fragile states.”

The Rural Poor Stimulus Facility will focus on the following activities:
• Provide inputs for production of crops, livestock and fisheries to small-scale producers so that they can weather the immediate effects of the economic crisis.
• Facilitate access to markets to support small-scale farmers to sell their products in conditions where restricted movement is interrupting the functioning of markets, including providing logistics and storage support.
• Provide targeted funds for rural financial services to ensure sufficient liquidity is available and to ease immediate loan repayment requirements to maintain services, markets and jobs for poor rural people.
• Use digital services to share key information on production, weather, finance and markets.

IFAD has significant experience in working in fragile situations improving the resilience of rural populations. For example, in Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak, IFAD-supported banks were the sole providers of banking and financial services in affected areas. They provided timely assistance during the outbreak and supported the renewal of the rural economy after the crisis passed.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, IFAD was already stepping up its programmes and calling on member states to increase investments in rural development to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 – ending hunger.

“A timely response to the pandemic is an opportunity to rebuild the world’s food systems along more sustainable and inclusive lines and build the resilience of rural populations to crisis, whether related to health, climate or conflict,” said Houngbo.

IFAD has received requests from governments in more than 65 countries to help respond to the impact of the pandemic. It has already adapted its projects and diverted funds to support this.

COVID-19 Scare: When China Sneezes, the World Catches Cold.

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Oryem Kissinger the author

Guest Post by Kissinger Oryem: – Yes, it is a global world and one village. Few weeks into this pandemic, I could hear the US president calling it China Virus and that is a reference deeper than the words coming out of his mouth.

When Dr. Charles Lieber was arrested on allegations of manufacturing and selling virus to China, we shall question how much intellectual properties of such nature was dug out by China I’d in 2018, alone 368,073 Chinese went to USA on student VISA to various colleges and universities. 1,301 went to Harvard University.

Chinese approach to education and studying in foreign country was a more aggressive approach especially when the west was consumed with cold war. During that time too, they ventured into Africa with more options than the capitalist West. Everything in Africa became “Chinanized” from plates plated, plastic shoes, phones, touch etc. Phones with very many lines and also with multiple use became a household items and every African took it as a privilege and a huge kindness by Chinese. “If you want Chinese to make for you another Jesus, just give them the sample and they will produce in all quality and quantity”.

Through a historic observation, while China empire remained intact, Europe, Africa separated into nations and ethnic lines. The latest divisionism can be illustrated by the Brexit quest by Britain. While Napoleon was for a quest to conquer the world over, he noticed China had remained intact in her dynastic rule, language and traditional leadership kept China United. When he captured Belgium which was the most industrialized country in continental Europe, Napoleon began to understand the needs of resources (Coal and Iron) to fuel industries this is something big empire like China had no problem with and that means, the emperor would decide in future to adopt industrialization or revolution and China would advance faster than European countries. This is what made the man with a dream to rule the world called China a sleeping giant.

Through the Ming Dynasty of the 1800s and the Qing Dynasty, China was not so powerful to counter foreign influence but they kept their culture and instilled the spirits of hard work in everyone. It is of no doubt that today in 2020 China has miraculously gain from Maosim to challenge the world strongest economic power. Of the largest 500 companies in the world today, 129 has its headquarter in China. Today China has the world largest foreign reserves worth $3.1Trilion.

It should be noted that, Dean George Q Deley of Harvard University of Medical School announced plan to collaborate with Guangzhou institute of respiratory health and pulmonologist and epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan, the expert who was heading Chinese 2019n-Cov taskforce. So, if all this plans were underway and Dr. Charles Lieber took the collaboration to personal level to manufacture and sell virus to China as alleged, how was this working to the benefit of china the world second largest economy?

World economic forum is already predicting the US economy would take three years to recover from Covid-19, this was through a research report by McKinsey and company. Commercial aerospace, travels and insurance, automotive industries among others were disrupted. Manufacturing plants reducing capacity as other shutdown have all created huge unemployment that shall only be felt when lockdown is uplifted.

As the economy seems to slip between hands of the “most powerful nations”, energy sectors OPEC and major oil producers failed to agree on additional cut of 1.5 million barrels per day. Saudi Arabia had to cut price and lifted output to harm Russia who didn’t want to agree to production cut and Brent crude fell by more than 20% the sharpest since 1991.

The Saudi- Russia price war is sending unsettled signal to market and we shall have not to forget the role of Saudi Arabia as G20 President. In response to price shock, large oil producers including US firms could pare back investment and production with heavily indebted forms layoffs, consolidations and even bankruptcy. Remember energy company account for 11% of US high yield market.

Whereas it was a common “believe” that capitalist fight their war in another country or cause chaos through support to rebel groups and join to support them with intentions of extracting raw materials, the common discussions today is, the communist ideology and the Maoism left the Chinese more aggressive and unpredictable.

It is the reason the majority of people on social media refer to the Pandemic as “world War three” and that it is an economic war that shall make the capitalist have a chill bum once the lockdown is uplifted since China seems more prepared and have huge economic strength to take off immediately after the virus comes to pass.

In this “economic war”, Africa is the orphan who is enjoying the love of the Foster family. Whereas Africa through her leadership opted for capitalism and rushed to liberalized her economy, North Korea has a different believe and still think that, if African were to stand by their culture and traditions, she would be great. This same believe could be what killed Gaddafi, for his dream was a United Africa with one currency and huge gold reserve.

I keep on imagining with all the resources and also the confusion in Africa, what Napoleon would call Africans! ” The empty headed giant who shall never wake up”! It is only in Africa that a person who can’t afford to pay fees of £50 have 10,000 Hectors of land. This is a unique kind of poverty and it can only be experienced in Africa.

So as the world battle Covid-19 with its vaccine “to be tested” in Africa the only powerful thing we have done was closing our borders.

Whereas we are suffering, it would also have been the most ideal moment to reflect what kind of romance we would still want to have with capitalist who are learning their lessons from communist, or what kind of relationship we shall have with ambitious communist.

The UN warn of a complete collapse of economy and livelihood of most African countries since most of them imposed lockdown, curfew, travels restrictions among others as measures to ensure the Pandemic is prevented. One thing for sure is, UN forgot that the shutdown was timely and according to Africa center for disease control and prevention out of 8000 cases there was 334 deaths and 702 recovered. This is the good side of the story UN is forgetting.

It is true Africa labour market is driven by import and export, and 50% of all projected growth jobs in Africa will be lost e.g. aviation (Uganda airlines inclusive), service industries, exports, mining, Agriculture and information sector.

Nigeria and Angola who are oil exporting nations have already lost up to £52bn in revenue as price tumble. UN also predicts sub Saharan Africa as at risk because of many heavy indebtedness as majority struggles to implement their national budget and they do under huge stress. This argument can be backed by the fact that Ethiopian Prime Minister is already seeking £120bn from G20 Nations. By the 25th March 2020 IMF had received request for emergency financing from over 20 African countries but speculations for more facing the virus related economic disruption is expected.

The closure of “world factory” China is hurting the global economy but mostly Africa given the resent courtship seeing the Afrosion projects all over. But could China bail out Africa after the virus given that most multibillion projects are being sponsored by China like Roads, dams, market constructions, building bridges etc?  With about 20% of all global trade in manufacturing originates from China, yet it was only 4% twenty years ago tells you the beast we are talking about.

In 2019, China topped the list of plan investments in Uganda according to Uganda investment authority. 45% were capital infrastructure project and manufacturing. this means China has a huge foreign direct investment to the economy of Uganda and also her economic performance is influenced by her major trading partner China. China for example the major market for Uganda coffee. small scale and medium enterprises in Uganda are mainly trading in China and this contributes to 13% of Uganda economy. Almost 20% of goods trade in this sector are imported from China e.g. textiles and apparels, electronics, building and construction materials, pharmaceuticals, heavy machinery, raw materials, iron and steel and households consumer goods.

all this gives hope to both Uganda and China that their new found romance could still be going on for a long while…

with a contribution of 7.7% to the country’s GDP and employing more than 700,000 people, the young tourism sector of Uganda has been severely hit by the lockdown and social distance as a minimum measure to cube the virus. Travels and hospitably industry in Uganda i.e. hotels, travels and your agencies, bars, restaurants, international conference and summits e.g 3rd UN G77 and China summit were postponing indefinitely. over 6,000 international delegates from 135 counties were expected.

Uganda’s 42% of all tax collections come from international trade in terms of VAT, import duty, import and excise duty or importation if petroleum products. couple with reduced economic activities in the retail and trading, service, hotel, tourism and manufacturing sector there shall be reduced remittance and corporation tax payment to URA and as manufacturing industries scale down production as a way not to risk running out of raw materials, these decisions will affect all the key stakeholders like banks, suppliers, creditors, staff, customers etc. joblessness, loss

 of business due to default of loans payments, rent and no supplies is what is facing businesses in Uganda.

whereas Bank of Uganda came up with 7 key measures seeking to make the cost of money for business community and commercial banks low, there are chances some businesses shall never open when the government uplift the lockdown. However, the UgaSino relationship still can be the spring board of Uganda’s economy given the importance of Uganda to Humanization of Africa.

The Capitalist west have for a while ignored threats by Head of States in Africa saying the shall withdraw from ICC. By the time a wife stands in the middle of the compound to tell you off, there is a possibility you are not worthy better still a real man has already been found. All in all, the economy of African countries shall be dearly supported by China as the west nurse the misery of the aftermath of the virus. China’s Economy seems intact and they will buy all the collapsing companies in the west or companies the west established in China to ease cost of productions.

China will be the new world economic champion when lockdown is uplifted.

10bn/- ‘cut’ from COVID-19 Budget Earns MPs a Prime Place on the Wall of Shame

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Norbert Mao

By Norbert Mao: – The air is now clear. The head of the legislature, Speaker Kadaga, put up a spirited but unconvincing defense of the 10bn/- the MPs allocated themselves.

“We have ambulances commandeered by the Ministry of Health. The drivers have to be paid and ambulances serviced. MPs are also busy on advocacy. Committees are following up on what is happening in hospitals and they are reporting to the country”, she tweeted via her official Tweeter account.

This admission comes at a time when public officials should be tightening their belts and leading by example in this season of living in reduced circumstances. MPs have watered the seedbed of corruption before but to wield the budgetary carving knife and get themselves a “cut” of 10bn/- is a scandal.

The 10bn/- allocation to themselves now adds insult to injury. It is not only an outrage but flies in the face of the Ministry of Health’s lamentation about lack of protective gear for health workers at the frontline of combatting COVID-19.

This shameless abuse of power was first shrouded in secrecy with most of the mainstream media shying away from reporting it. This is no surprise. Parliament is a big source of advertising revenue and no media house would want to be on the wrong side of the all powerful House Speaker.

It was the daring online publications that blew the whistle. They were the first to report the stench emanating from parliament over the waylaying of funds intended to fight COVID-19.

All round condemnation then followed. An outraged public took to social media to condemn this despicable act. I’m sure if it were not for the lockdown, a few pigs, appropriately named after the members of the Parliamentary Commission the Speaker chairs, would have been released on Parliamentary Avenue!

Anyone who defends this abuse of power should let the public know what kind of work plan the MPs would adopt to spend the 10bn/-. The Speaker only gave a vague and  generalized task list to justify the allocation.

MPs are among the most well facilitated public officials. The extra facilitation at a time when those at the frontline of the anti-COVID-19 fight are cash strapped is abominable and repugnant.

At best the money was a kind of kickback based on a conspiracy between the MPs and those who intend to embezzle chunks of the money once it leaves the treasury. We acknowledge of course the vigilance of the MPs, with public support, to remove ridiculous items like outdoor advertising through billboards! 

Let’s look at what this money can do. 10bn/- can put up 100 basic Intensive Care Units (ICUs) with each costing 100m/-. It can procure 52 brand new 4 Wheel Drive Toyota Double Cabin Pick Ups. Build and equip 30 Health Centre IIIs, each costing about 300m/-. Build and furnish 70 basic Primary Schools each costing about 150m/-.

In terms of feeding vulnerable households during the 21 day lockdown, 10bn/- can feed 48,000 households or 192,000 people for the duration of the 21 day lockdown. 

Put another way, during the 21 day lockdown each MP will be eating 952,380/- a day. That comes to 317,460/- per meal. Yet the ordinary vulnerable Ugandan (‘omuntu wa wansi’ in Luganda or the ‘walala hoi’ in Swahili), if lucky, will eat an average of 10,000/- a day per household of 4.

That makes 2,500/- per person per day. That means 833/- per meal. In short, for each meal the deprived average Ugandan eats during the 21 day lockdown, each MP will eat 381 meals. There is the score. Wanainchi 1. MPs 381!

If ever there will be a Wall of Shame after the Coronavirus pandemic has receded, the MPs have earned themselves a prime place on it. The right thing for parliament to do is to redeem the image of the institution by giving the money back to the Ministry of Health as overtime allowances for doctors and nurses.

At the very least we expect individual MPs with a sense of honour to donate the money to Uganda Red Cross!

Curfew in Kitgum: “I cover 7km by Bicycle Everyday”- Jino Oloya

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Odoa on Bike

The recent government application of nationwide curfews starting 7:00 pm every day in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is yielding mixed results.

More than a fifth of the world has been under lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus that has infected over 2 million people and killed another 145,000. The US is worst hit, claiming 34,522 of the total fatalities as of today.

Although a Malawi high court has blocked the government from imposing a 21-day lockdown on grounds of unclear government support plans for the poor people, Botswana, on the other hand, is seeking to extend its lockdown for six more months

Dozens of other countries are quarantining at a higher pace though critics say the world should start lifting the lockdowns to save the economy.

Uganda Tuesday extended its partial lockdown for three weeks (until May 5) without resistance from the public. The President maintained the prohibition on the use of motorcycles beyond 2 pm and a total ban on movement between 7 pm and 6:30 a.m every day.

Northernews Wire’s correspondent Joel Odota spoke with Jino Oloya of Kitgum district on his lockdown experience.

“I live about 3.5km from the heart of Kitgum town and cover at least 7km on a return trip each day”, narrates Jino while sweating profusely on his little bicycle near the Central Division food market. The medium-sized guy praised the lockdown for putting a ban on the use of private cars and motorcycles, saying walking and cycling are great habits for health.

Jino now plans on procuring another bicycle to help his family, but worries prices are shooting up quickly during the lockdown. He further advised that the lockdown is meant to protect the nation from a deadly pandemic and shouldn’t be seen as a punishment.

“We see thousands of people die in a single day elsewhere in the world. We don’t wish to have that here” explains, Jino.

It seems like bicycles just got fashionable since the lockdown kicked off. The streets of Kitgum now observe different kinds of bicycles, some of which are as old as 30 years. Prices of new bicycles and spare parts also rose during the quarantine period, while the use of motorcycles dropped a hundredfold.

Some people have also resorted to hiking (no running) to keep fit. The President has since banned any form of outdoor activities.

Tell us your curfew story in the comment box below, Email, northernewswire@gmail.com or WhatsApp +256782745292. 

Odoa on Bike

#COVID-19 10B Fund to Parliament, 20M Purported for MPs is Shameful. Expect My Refund – Bobi Wine

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Parliament has allocated itself 10 billion Shillings from the over 300 billion Shillings supplementary expense for the COVID-19 intervention. However, the move has drawn criticism especially on social media where members are being accused of being selfish.

Parliament insist, that the said10 billion Shillings was and has been allocated to the institution for COVID-19 interventions.

While chairing parliamentary session today, Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, the speaker warns MPs against speaking about the Shs 10bn they allocated themselves to fight #COVID19. She says, only her, and the parliamentary commission, understand it and are permitted to speak about it.

With rumors making round about each Member of Parliament having received 20million shilling to help them with ground operations. Legislatures like Nandala Mafabi have come out to dis-associate themselves from the claim of having revived the money.

Kyagulanyi Robert Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine in response to this expressed his fear over the development.

In a letter to the populace, Kyagulanyi wrote saying,

Many Ugandans are surprised and very angry that the Parliament of Uganda allocated 10 Billion Shillings to itself amidst an unprecedented Coronavirus crisis. The allocation of this money is not only shameful. It is insensitive to the plight of millions of Ugandans who are facing untold challenges ranging from hunger, sickness and even death.

Ugandans are bearing the brunt of this predicament. There have been reports of numerous people failing to access health centers due to limited transport means, and as a result some have succumbed to various ailments. A huge number of people across the country are in dire need of food, healthcare and other essential amenities. The Government has not done much to help them.

Ugandans are therefore justified to be very angry at this selfish action by their ‘representatives’. Our view, however, is that Ugandans should be angrier at the manner by which they are governed- the 20 million shillings is a symptom of a bigger crisis which we are fighting to resolve.

Indeed, government presented a supplementary budget of over 300 billion shillings to Parliament to aid in the fight against COVID19. Many aspects of the budget were not only luxurious, some seemed even dubious! Several legislators raised concerns about the allocation of huge sums of money for things like billboards, but they would not be heard! A Minority Report authored by Hon. Gerald Karuhanga was ignored. The budget was passed without much debate.

It will be recalled that on 24th March, we issued a statement in which we demanded that government diverts monies from all non-essential aspects and diverts it to equipping health facilities across the country, and giving incentives to health workers. Unfortunately, the same government which has never prioritized the healthcare of the people of Uganda ignored our call.

Regarding the 20 million shillings therefore, it appears that yet again, the executive thought that for the supplementary budget to pass with ease, MPs needed to get a share of this money so they don’t resist its passing. We all recall that this has been done countless times, including in the passing of immoral Constitutional amendments, such as the term limit and age limit amendments. On several occasions, MPs have been bribed do the bidding of the Executive. This is why elections matter. This is why it should matter to all Ugandans who they elect for office at every level!

We reject the notion that this money was meant to enable Members of Parliament carry out their roles in this period. The cardinal roles of an MP include; legislation, representation, budget allocation and government oversight. None of these roles require an MP to be an extension of the Executive, in the sense that government should in addition to MPs’ salaries provide a separate budget to each MP to extend services to the people. An MP, just like any other able citizen can avail support to vulnerable people from their personal earnings (something which I personally have done and continue to do), but this money should not be drawn from the tax payers’ money.

Let me clarify that I have not received this money. Should it be deposited on my account, I will immediately order my bank to return it to the Consolidated Fund and demand that it is put to its proper purpose. We must learn to empower institutions and not seek to enrich individuals.

As we have repeatedly said, the focus of our nation at this point should be on building a robust healthcare system, and empowering our healthcare practitioners with all they need, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The People Power Movement will continue to use the available resources contributed by ourselves and other well-wishers to reach out and support some of our people who are in extreme need.

We shall also continue to demand that the government reaches out to all citizens and gives them food relief in these tough times.

And yes, we shall continue struggling day and night to put an end to the decadent and corrupt regime.

Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert, MP- Kyadondo East Constituency & Leader of People Power Movement

Putting on the Shoes of a Despicable Criminal in Acholi Land. The Boy Who Canned the Grandmother

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Mwaka Emmanuel Lutukmoi
Mwaka Emmanuel Lutukmoi

Guest Post I By Mwaka Lutukmoi : – TEARS FOR AN INNOCENT KILLER – NYAC PA LAKWARO KA IYE, IMADO (Acholi saying of taking responsibility) and NYUKA KA OTON ICIB PE NANGE (Acholi wisdom, a split milk can’t be removed) , yes these are akin to the inhuman beating of an old woman,  by her grandson.

He is among many in war turned trauma entangled places who committed crimes they didn’t under influence of trauma, drugs and mental health issues, condemned and declared idiots, who are to only face  nothing but death punishment or life time in jail. 

Their crime includes violent attacks that result to bodily injuries and even death.  These offenders both juvenile and adults in Achol, lango, Teso Kasese and war affected places in Uganda.

The top innocent killer ( Ongwen) is now committed to the international criminal court ( ICC),  a court at the verge of decay ,but now the innocent killer becomes their exhibits of money well spent,  I am sure he will receive his verdict to prove that ICC is real. This man is called Ongwen, former abductee cum notorious rebel commando of Lord’s Resistance, a commander.

The arrest and Trial of Ongwen at The Hague caused mixed reactions from many.  To majority of Acholi, whose hundreds of children got lost, abducted, made child soldiers, commanders and others sex slaves want Ongwen pardoned, in Ongwen the ” killer” is a symbol of their children, who are either dead or living in a Jungle and the middle of nowhere. 

Many either died or are surviving.  Acholi ably welcomed home their tormentors who were LRA commanders, and child soldiers home in the community.  But the same government that did nothing to protect the children from being abducted, later condemned and ignored them are now chest thumping for apprehending the criminals.  Government should have spent billions in mental health issues in a highly traumatic society.  Unfortunately, if it’s to be, it’s up to Acholi community.

THE INHUMANE TOTURE OF AN OLD WOMAN IN ACHOLI THAT WENT VIRAL.

” The idiot has been arrested ” screamed one Ugandan security operative, ” He deserves the hottest part of hell, kill him, he deserves death ” another ” it’s despicable, he must be reprimanded ” says a religious leader, ” idiot, drug abuser who has been on and off of police over time, deserves life!” One prominent leader said.

 Every one, every leader wants to be seen as a rescuer and a great condemner! Is this leadership? Another prominent person opined ” we are baying for his blood, and we can’t sleep, he doesn’t need to be quarantined, but be removed from CORONA life saver and we help burying ” added. 

These are some of the few known reactions of people on a guy , who beat up an older grandmother in her 80s, he must be in his early 20s. Does he deserves hell, death,  life in prison,  or government build a mental health institute strictly for the people affected by war in northern  eastern and  other  parts of Uganda?

MY TAKE ON THE ABUSER!

 I cried,  I felt she was my own grandmother who passed on in my arms in the hospital at 89 in 2016! I loved my grandmother so much. I love old women, and men,  they are our Gold!

 A friend Tokuma Caroline called me and told me of the  passing of her grandmother,  mego Adol, I cried! Mego at her 90s I believe,  was a friend to my late grandmother , mego Norah,  I fondly  called  Naa and loved me so much.

 That’s how I love old people,  and why we must love and protect them.  When I saw this boy beat the grandmother,  I felt,  like committing a crime! But what will be the difference between me and him,  where will my leadership must have gone?

Yes, among dogs that are hit by a stone and the one that cries bitterly will have recieved the stone. When you lost your child,  you witnessed pain of wars, you may reverse your condemnation of the tormentors.

He is not alone,  they are in thousands in Acholi.  In Lango,  in Teso and Bakonzo in kasese where ADF and government wrecked harvoc on the people.  More than hundreds of children were tortured and abducted by ADF rebels in Kasese,  like hundreds in Northern Uganda.  Northern Uganda is worse because it took longer,  others termed it as a brilliant genocide.

I SUGGEST

Government and parliament pass a reparation law that will enable creation of trauma or mental health centers in areas of war. This will help to reconstruct wasted people like what we saw and witness daily,  reparation will help restock, rebuild and revamp areas like education and health.  It must be specific. 

CULTURAL INSTITUTION. The various cultural institutions must ensure,  cultural norms are not only taught but make use of schools and must be written down and also use media.

 The cultural institution is important,  in Acholi,  at 42 now I haven’t seen a young man beating an old person.  We would be beaten by elders and you don’t open your mouth,  to cry was a crime.  I have seen old women beating up big sons and they fold hands.

 In Acholi culture,  we respect anyone older than you even by weeks.  An old person can beat you and curse.  You fear when they are annoyed.

When an old woman gets her breast and points heaven telling God ” if this breast didn’t feed you or your mother,  let me die” that will be the end of you.

Besides, I am in several wazup groups, I see young people,  who claim to be knowledgeable,  abuse elders and leaders.  Let the informal education come back.

COMMUNITY LEADERS AND MEMBERS. Let local governments come up with budgets for for mental health and support of these formerly abducted children or those traumatized at home. 

In Gulu,  we have several groups formed,  Aguu boys rob and kill, tumbafu squared now defunct.  And also let the community members come together and report such characters.

Finally,  I did a research on violence and social change,  sponsored by Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation( New York) in 2013 . The title ” Livelihood strategies adopted by children living in child headed households in Gulu,  after the war ” it gave many strategies to avert what we are seeing now . I personally engaged in what I can.  I will publish a book on the same. 

I saw many people coming up to raise funds to support the victim, I contributed but we must brace ourselves ready to cough more. Many are out there.

Again,  I heard the boy asking the old woman  ” where is our home?” The boy felt not part of that home. Possibly a reason he is on drugs. Many children are born out of wedlock.  Hundreds born in captivity as results of rape.

Their mothers were abducted.  Many were born but parents died in the war, or with AIDS.  In the North,  Uganda’s prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS is 6.5% Acholi during war was in double digits.  Now 11% but was far more during war. Of 8 people in our house hold, we lost 6 to AIDS. Left with orphans. Most head homes.

Again,  culturally in Acholi,  a nephew, niece, call them bastards are taken as second class citizens.  Children and mothers of your uncles keep reminding you,  you won’t inherit nothing here, go to your home.  “Okeyo” ma muwa” ( mere nephew) that’s how they reduce them.  So a person  under trauma  and  influence  of drugs like the boy we saw can kill.  I remember a bad feeling  I had but  I am humble,  I kept  quiet.  I remember  an uncle telling us,  ” where’s your home,  leave my land”.

Today there are lots of land conflicts and deaths in Acholi, Lango,  Teso and even  Kasese It comes from the same, trauma or culture.  Many old people now dead, before people were herded to IDP camps,  their parents could have given land to their sisters of failed marriage. 

During old days,  money or dowry of your sister helps you marry,  the wealth circulates around.  Now incase of failed marriage,  women’ family fear returning dowry,  so they give land. Because culture is dead, children of these people end up selling these land thus conflicts and  abusing.

Like my grandmother,  had 5 kids, they all died remaining orphans.  Relatives of her husband,  our grandfather’s brother and relatives drugged the old woman my grandmother to court.  She spent 10 years going to court.

 The 52 plots we grew up in in Agwee – Laroo had to be taken.  She is their mother and we orphans can’t inherit.  It took the step children of my grandfather,  who stood up and said,  much as they are orphans,  they are children of our sisters. In the end,  court sent us back home.  Of 52 plots, the orphans now has 7 plots and the rest taken by relatives.  Thank God,  we are sober  death or beating  would have occurred.  By the way,  not all elders are respectful.

In early years,  there was no trauma,  it was worse, okeyo or nephews eat the head of goats or chickens.  You are ridiculed.  This is a great culture because it keeps marriage,  no divorce.  No one wants to be a second class citizen.

Yes, I condemn the acts, but its more than the eye can see. No one must lay hands on a human being,  worse for an elder or a woman. 

An elder is a blessing,  a woman is a symbol of peace.  When a father beats you,  you run to a mother,  when chased from a father’s house,  you go to mother’s kitchen,  when chased away from father land,  you go to mother land.  A mother is gold,  yes women.

Mwaka Lutukumoi, the writer is a former war victim.

Torture of a Grandmother Offers a Glimpse into a Broken Society.

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Guest Post I By Moses Odokonyero: It took me a while to gather the guts needed to watch the gruesome video in which a violent young man is seen furiously beating an old woman said to be his grandmother.

In the appalling video shot by an unidentified person, the nuts young man is heard howling: ‘‘I don’t want stupidity. Show me my father’s home? Where is my home?’’

His questions came simultaneous with an indiscriminate rain of whips landing on the powerless grandmother who wailed in agony: ‘‘Ocii you are killing me for nothing.’’

‘‘This man needs to be dealt with by the law,’’ a female voice can be heard saying in the background, suggesting the video could have been shot by a woman who felt powerless to physically confront the haywire  grandson.

The old woman has been identified by local leaders as Lucy Anek, a resident of Cuda village in Ongako sub county in Omoro district.  She was traced by Gulu district Chairman Ojara Martin Mapenduzi. By last evening she had been taken for medical treatment at Gulu Referral Hospital. An online campaign to raise her money has been initiated. Okello, her violent grandson, is on the run, with the police reportedly on his on his heels.

The horrifying video has left many open-mouthed, wonderings how a grandson can do that to a grandmother.  The impulsive reaction has been to heap the blame on the young man (granted, nothing justifies that violence).

The clueless with no critical thinking and analytical skills worth writing home about, fed on years of stereotypes, are flogging the same dead horse: ‘‘Northerners are violent’’. Others have chosen to focus on the ethical: Why didn’t the person who shot the video help?

In the heat of the moment, we all lose a sense of rational thinking. But calm and rationale must always reign supreme or we stand the risk of misdiagnosing and focusing on a microcosm not the elephant in the room.

The elephant is that the Acholi society  is a broken society. Broken first by war and two by poverty. The two are linked to war, exclusion, bad economics, and a post conflict recovery that left unanswered psycho-social questions in its wake. The victims of the unanswered questions is the bonkers grandson pouncing on a weak grandmother. Both are victims. But women and the elderly are taking the brunt.

The young who were born in the so-called internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in northern Uganda in the late 1990’s and early 2000 grew up with hands stretched begging for morsels of food from relief agencies and well-wishers. Unable to feed and protect the family,  the men lost confidence and took to drinking. Traditional decorum flew out shack roofs in IDP camps like Pabbo that at the height of war had a population of 60,000. An excited western journalist described camps as a ‘‘City of the displaced’’.

The children born in the confined shacks are now adults but without moral campuses, no competitive skills, no decorum, and with an eye on the family land. Show me my father’s home is a route to having a stake in the family land. The old are viewed by the young as obstacles to that acquisition which many sell off cheap to marry second wives, drink silly in their local trading centres or buy motorcycles to join the boda bodas business and break their limbs in the process.

When journalists dig out more about the story of the brutal young man beating a helpless grandmother, we shall know their story.  But it is a fact that there are young adults in northern Uganda suffering an identity crisis because of not knowing who their fathers are, and by extension where their home is (in our traditional society, the child’s home is the father’s home). Show me my home can also be a desperation for an adult stricken by an identity crisis.

The immediate need now is to lock up the young man and address the urgent needs of his tortured grandmother. But it should also serve as a soul-searching moment for local governments, politicians, policy makers and the NGOs. The narrative about northern Uganda has gradually changed over the last decade with a focus on ‘‘development’’ with ‘‘post conflict recovery’’ losing its bounce. Running away from the effects of war is not as easy as showing off beautiful drone-shot images of new  Chinese built roads in ‘‘Gulu City’’.

For the rest of Uganda, the violence we have watched isn’t exclusivity a northern Uganda problem. It is also a Ugandan problem. Our TV screens and newspaper pages regularly carry stories on violence from areas that haven’t been recent victims of war.

Mr Odokonyero is writer & communications specialist

One Statement from the President’s Last National Address that Became Controversial

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President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

The President of the Republic of Uganda H.E Yoweri Museveni Kaguta has of late been a common figure on TVs following the COVID-19 outbreak.

The President, who was often quoted on newspapers or read on his official twitter account has since the Coronavirus outbreak made at least 5 lengthy speeches to the nation to update the citizenry on the status of the COVID-19 virus spread in Uganda, but also guide the nation on the Donts and Dos.

He shocked the world even more when he released an indoor workout video that went viral on social media and the mainstream media.

In his most recent address last week on Wednesday, the president banned outdoor exercises and declared all streets free of motorcycle riders beyond 2pm. The boda boda riders who were initially allowed to carry cargo alone until the start of curfew at 7pm would go against the new rules if they did so after 2:00pm.

The President didn’t stop there—he touched something on the landlord-tenant relationship, something that seemed to have caught the attention of viewers more. The President did mention that no landlord would evict tenants on grounds of defaulting their rent during this coronavirus emergency. Indeed, it makes more sense especially given that many jobs are lost and life comes above shelter.

This was tenants’ favorite line from all the speeches the president made, while the same statement became property-owners’ nastiest to this day. When I talked to a friend who owns a property in the outskirts of Kitgum Municipality in anonymity, the landlord, also a strong supporter of the President condemned the Head of state’s statement and called it “unfair”.

He added that both landlords and tenants are equally affected by the pandemic and the best thing the government could do would be to treat both parties well by finding a balance. In his opinion, he expected the President to provide a detailed plan for the landlords including how they would be compensated.

He further expressed his concern about the situation should the Coronavirus spread continue for several months.

With another nation address scheduled for today noon, many are enthusiastic about what else the Premier will say. Non-food businesses are especially eager to hear their fate, while public transporters, property owners are similarly curious.

Northernews Wire will update you on the key takeaways from today’s Presidential speech to the nation. The country’s fight against COVID-19 has so far been promising, with 54 infections, no deaths, while another 7 patients have recovered from the infection since outbreak.

#StayHomeUg #COVID-19

Desert Locusts’ Comeback Worry Farmers in Northern Uganda

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Courtesy Picture

Before the fears of farmers in Northern Uganda shifted to the recent coronavirus outbreak, many were already upset about the large swarms of desert locusts that entered the region through its eastern territory in February 2020. Reports indicated that these locusts caused unthinkable havocs in Western Kenya, where they originated from.

The locusts were met with a fight by the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) when they first entered the borders of Uganda through Amudat, after which they went in hibernation. Essentially, people thought the locusts were all dead after they went in hiding for a while.

However, on Wednesday 8, 2020, residents of Kitgum and Lamwo were shocked when they saw large throngs of the insects flying the skies heading westwards.

For two weeks now, the government of Uganda had imposed a lock-down across the country, with exceptions given to the farmers to freely move and carry out agricultural production. Seeing the yellow locusts in the air again just added another layer of fear to the already struggling farmers, most of whom have very little hope in their harvest this year.

Unlike other regions, Northern Uganda is basically dry and has only one planting season (April-October) followed by a long dry spelt (late November- early March), during which period most crop harvests are made.

Nature-induced food insecurity still remains a major problem in the region due to the harsh climatic conditions. According to a Priya Gujadhur, an official from FAO, one swarm of 40 to 80 million locusts can consume food for over 35,000 people in a single day.

With two signs of disasters seen in the first quarter of this year—COVID-19 and the yellow locust tragedies, most Ugandans have named the year “worst in history” and concerns of humanitarian crisis remain high.

It is still unclear how possible it is for the government and farmers to find a way out of the two difficult phenomena that have posed severe threats not only to livelihoods but the entire economic, social and political realms of the country.

The COVID-19 crisis especially remains the bigger threat in the future going forward. Despite the government efforts in dealing with the two catastrophes, many analysts have projected a slowdown in economic growth, social and political uncertainties in Sub-Saharan Africa due to the disaster.

Following the recent presidential directives, farmers across the country have been encouraged to concentrate on their work to provide sufficient food for the fast-growing population amid calamities.

In Northern Uganda, agricultural input stores have been seen busy, with farmers buying agricultural tools and other inputs and many farmers already clearing gardens for planting.

Wishing the nation well! , #StaySafe #StayHome