In our country, our people love to be called important. And Covid19 brought about a group of people called “Essential”.
In so doing, people who have a sticker on their cars that allows them to move take it personal to think life cannot do without them – the truth is it is the service being rendered that is essential, not the person. And thus, even our heroic doctors, have sacrificed their lives and time around their families to see the rest of us stay alive.
Important people including judges are staying home, waiting and praying for this wave to pass, but parliament operates like nothing is happening around them.
Which bug has bitten the honourables?
Unfortunately, as usual, it is a misinterpretation of issues that is the problem. MPs want everyone to know they are important. May be they are.
Unfortunately, legislators who President Museveni has left out in his covid-19 addresses, have continued with their work as if the world cannot work without parliament. Does it really need a president to mention Parliament should also close? I know just as many do know, that Mr Museveni does not want to be blamed for closing parliament unless it came from the Speaker herself. She has not seen the need though.
Yet, there is nothing at parliament so important that they must congregate in groups despite their being a high-risk group. This leaves parliament the weakest link in the control and management of covid19.
One wonders why MPs have risked it all to appear invincible!
In recent times since corona virus invaded the planet, most countries have shut down, leaving only essential service to operate. Among those essential services are health care workers who have respond to the health of the patients. Those that actually interact with covid-19 patients, have not returned home since they were assigned to duty. For the disease is highly contagious that it could be passed on to the family which has nothing to do with health provision.
Then there are security officials who are enforcing the curfew. Even these ones, only a few have been licensed to be on duty. Water, telecoms, banks, media and food shops. They are categorized as essential services.
In Kenya, last week, news struck the world that over 20 legislators in the country had tested positive to the virus. In Uganda, no MP has tested positive, but in truth, legislators are among high risk individuals who should have been quarantined in the first place because they travel a lot and associate with so many groups of people.
In Ugandan parliament, there have been reports of some MPs escaping from institutional quarantine after throwing around their weight that they are VIPs, or someone powerful placed a call to have them released. Others bragged in the House that they have travelling in high risk countries but were never checked thoroughly on return. Instead of these individuals turning in for tests or self-quarantining themselves, they instead chose to come to make noise in the House, standing amidst colleagues.
To make matters worse, Parliament has not suspended its activities even when everyone is holed up at home. Instead of debating how the government can help ordinary people to cope with the situation without work or movement, instead they asked for bigger space where they can talk from.
In some countries, MPs have offered their salaries to help support Covid-19 patients or people affected by the pandemic. Ours are talking heads, and only the MP from Nakaseke has asked Parliament to deduct sh2 million from his pay to serve the needy groups.
Needless to mention, Parliament led by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, are sitting on a time bomb because once the corona virus breeds among them, it could leave the House in shambles.
The Kenyans didn’t expect that large number could be positive, and they don’t know how many people they passed it on to. Uganda’s parliament might become the next epicenter for disease just as the poor population was humbly waiting for the directives to move back to their work.
This must be a season for the passing the next budget, but, in my view, it could wait, just as many of us have important things to do but are patiently waiting for all this to pass before we resume business.
I have watched in awe on television as legislators went about their work, sitting next to each other. I hear the speaker asked for about 100 of them to attend. I think this is not necessary. If Madam Kadaga cares about her health and that of her legislators, she should abide by the lockdown. And maybe MPs don’t know, their work is important but not essential.
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