The Uganda politics around covid19 and extension of 2021 elections

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By Okoler Opio Enoch Lo Amanu

On the 19th day of April, 2020, an opposition leader namely, Hon. Zaake Francis Butebi was picked by security personnel from his home situate in Buswabulongo village – Mityana Municipality on allegations that, he had shared relief food items with members of his constituency contrary to the presidential directives purportedly in force in Uganda.

To begin with, I wish to state without fear of contradiction that the said presidential directives are hoisted on wobbly legal grounds since there is absolutely no legal provision in our laws that permits the President to rule by decree, as is the case now, except in such times when the country is in a state of emergency pursuant to article 110 of the constitution of the republic of Uganda, which directives, if any, have to be reported to Parliament in conformity with clause 6.

That said, it is important to note that after ascertainment of the devastating effects of Covid 19 on the health of members of the public, as the head of state, the president was left with only two legally recognized actions available for him to choose from, that is, letting the health minister exercise powers conferred upon her by the Public Health Act to put in place a statutory instrument containing rules that counter the spread of the pandemic, this in essence, criminalizes violation of the set rules.

Secondly, the president would proceed under article 110 (1) c of the constitution of the republic of Uganda, and declare a state of emergency in the country specifically on the ground of taking measures that are required for securing public safety, there is no doubt the president would have received the necessary support from the legislature and the judiciary, there is evidence to this.

While presiding over a plenary session of Parliament, the speaker is on record stating that the chief justice and herself advised the president to consider declaring a state of emergency, but the president neither chose declaring a state of emergency nor allowing the minister to work independently.

Notwithstanding the two existing legal provisions, the president, in his wisdom found it appropriate, as has always been the case, to associate himself with a political approach which of course, is tantamount to undermining the law.

That said and done, he is using this approach to issue directives that politically benefit him. Unfortunately hitherto, majority of opposition politicians haven’t noticed that Covid 19 campaign in Uganda has long gone political, that is why there are proposals to establish Covid19 constituency taskforce headed by members of Parliament, but also, what is appearing as a battle between Parliament and the other two arms of government is basically founded on a political pedestal.

By reason aforementioned, the NRM members of Parliament including Ministers like Hon. Kasolo and Hon. Rosemary Sseninde can gather people contrary to the “directives”, give them food and walk away scot free; and yet when Hon. Zaake Francis Butebi does the same without crowding people, he is arrested and maimed to send a strong message to the opposition that, danger awaits those that will dare. The ” law” is that selective.

Sufficient to note is that, those that interest themselves in reading the signs can vividly notice that, it is highly probable that 2021 general elections will not be extended. This opinion is founded on the conviction that Mr. Museveni can’t be that naive to allow(sic) extension of 2021 general elections at a time when he has managed to politically prevail over all other political players including those that were ahead of him before Covid19 pandemic.

Also worth noting is that, politics is like catching grasshoppers, he who has the brightest light attracts more, common sense has it that, when one turns out to be having the brightest light thus catching more, it is ingenious for such a person to suggest postponement of the activity because he doesn’t know what tomorrow holds, it may bring a tsunami.

Therefore, let it be known to all and sundry that the electoral commission cannot extend the 2021 general elections at a time when their benefactor is leading.

Okoler Opio Enoch Lo Amanu,