The year is coming to a close and we at the Anti Corruption Coalition Uganda are pleased that you have walked this far with us.
Thus far, it has been a beautiful walk, a fruitful one, if we may add. It has also been wrought with challenges, but those are what have defined us this year.
We, however, wish to draw your attention to a few things that have happened to us, but also to Uganda in general. At the start of the year, locusts from the Arabian Peninsula invaded East Africa. The wrecked untold damage to the environment, especially the vegetation. They ate whatever was green, laid eggs and moved on.
Covid-19 also made landfall, In East Africa, left thousands dead, In Uganda, the number is already above the 200 mark and the infection rates have run away. The Government tried to contain the numbers but did not do much in preparing for the inevitable, that is the actual spread of the virus among the population. It was initially expected that when the lockdowns took effect, the Government would equip all referral hospitals with ICUs to manage the community infections, however, this was not done to the required standard, instead, we are now playing catch up when there is nowhere to put the sick.
Also, a number of people, both corporate and individual, donated to the cause of the fight against Covid-19, however, those charged with managing these donations were either not transparent enough or not accountable and in a number of cases, both. While people were starving to death during the imposed lockdowns to manage Covid-19, those charged with managing the donations were either inflating prices, flaunting procurement regulations, outrightly stealing from the kitty or shooting and causing bodily harm to those that dared to step out of their houses to try and feed their children. It is for these and more reasons that when the lockdowns were eased, people went all out to avenge the numerous evils they had witnessed during the lockdown.
Seasonal floods that usually happen in some parts of Uganda during the rainy seasons happened in parts of Teso and Kasese. These left a path of destruction and misery in their path. In Kasese, for instance, as many as 100,000 people were affected by flooding that started on May 5, 2020. Torrential rain on May 21 caused further flooding leaving at least 8 people dead. To this, the Government responded with emergency measures to assist the affected.
In all these three instances, the locusts, Covid-19 and the floods, the government response was emergency procurements. While this was the only way to take, the emergencies could have been managed better had there been a planning process. In the case of the locusts, reports first surfaced three months before they actually arrived, that was sufficient time to plan to manage them in the Karamoja area. For the case of Covid-19, it was well publicised in December 2019, Uganda registered her first case in March 2020, as for the floods, they happen annually.
We agree that planning for emergencies is a tedious task, however, not planning at all or planning, but hoping that divine intervention will somehow avert the situation is planning to fail. For the case of Uganda, more than 13 trillion shillings went into the fight of Covid-19 and these funds are yet to be accounted for. This opaqueness favours corruption and ill governance.