Atukwatsa Celine Don
Student’s Leader, Uganda National Students‘ Association (UNSA) – UGANDA
„A heavy load on the world’s head for the pillows to bear.“Covid-19 brought about by the Corona virus is a dreadful storm that has swept across the entire globe. First confi rmed in Wuhan, a city in China in December 2019, the fire spread the smoke all over to the European continent. By the end of February, the WHO had declared it a global pandemic. The African continent started receiving its share within no time. The rate at which COVID- 19 is spreading is alarming. This is manifested by high levels of person to person contact emanating from improved technology, especially in transport.
As we tighten our belts to fi ght harder and overcome the pandemic, its effects on the entire world are rapidly increasing. The global economy has faced a backlash, education has been halted and worse still temples of worship have also been closed.
COVID- 19 that just started as a mere disease in Wuhan is now a global pandemic which has also posed a test on the global democracy. Democracy that can be literally defi ned as „the rule of law“ has overwhelmingly been crashed.
We are in a situation where the governments in power have taken it as a golden privilege to put a halt at the elections which in most of the countries are not yet even not to be held. For instance, USA has cancelled its presidential primary elections over the pandemic. In Uganda, the legislators were already discussing the postponing on the 2021 general elections few weeks after the confi rmation of few coronavirus cases in the country. The very Legislators have been clashing over 10bn Ug shillings approx. 2.7 million USD to give out relief to the voters in their respective constituencies to show relevancy. To the contrary this is the executive’s duty in democratic governance. This has been away of bribing voters to earn themselves more support in the forthcoming elections which is against constitutional rule.
People are now living in pieces instead of peace. The situation has turned into a reign of terror. Those that are against their presidents‘ measures are being criticized and so far, some of them have been hospitalized. In Lebanon, protestors have been injured by security offi cials having turned violent as currency value halves. In Uganda, the Mityana legislator Hon. Zaake Francis has been arrested and brutally tortured due to fact that he tried giving out relief aid to his voters against presidential directive of social distancing. The Jinja RDC (president’s representative at district), Eric Sakwa has also been charged with manslaughter after he allegedly terrorized and beat citizens to death on allegation that they refused to close business during lockdown. Those that would have been custodians of the law are now tormentors. People’s rights have been trampled on over mere disagreements.
In the US, citizens are at loggerheads with their president Donald Trump who has proved to be more dictatorial amidst the situation at hand. He has gone overhead to mislead his own people. He recently suggested that medics should start injecting people with sanitizers in a bid to curb the virus spread. He is now shifting the blame to WHO for conspiracy with China to shift balance of power from the USA. The Americans have lost confi dence in him despite being at the forefront of fi ghting the pandemic.
In Tanzania, John Magufuri, the president is still hesitant to declare a lockdown against the virus spread. This is putting Tanzania itself and her neighbors at a big threat. For instance, recently increasing COVID-19 rates in Uganda are from the Tanzanian cargo truck drivers. His failure to declare lockdown and implement social distancing has earned him distrust from citizens.
However, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Countries are feeling a test of democracy.
In most countries the opposition groups have come to some understanding with regimes in power. The pandemic has proved a threat to everyone and that’s why people have come to unite as one. In Uganda, the Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine -a Ugandan pop star musician turned into politician and one of Museveni challengers in the 2021 elections is now working hand in hand with the government in the coronavirus fight. He recently responded to
President Museveni’s call for relief aid by distributing tons of food to the National COVID-19 Task Force. He also composed a COVID-19 sensitization song.
The COVID-19 pandemic has driven citizens to a realization that they can be of help to their governments. This is a situation where everyone has been affected. People have thus come up to help their governments. Churches and religious leaders that have been the recipients from governments are instead the ones donating to people through the government. We have too seen individuals including low income earners (taxi drivers, cyclists etc.) contributing money, vehicles, food and PPEs. In Uganda, approximately 2 Million USD have been raised
in cash. The spirit of nationalism is on the rise.
Many countries have also learned self-reliance. They have provided their citizens with the essential health services they have always yearned for. For instance, Uganda is building a fleet of 10 medical vehicles per district compared to the previous about two vehicles. Every country is building enough medical personnel, enough equipment in hospitals Inter alia. Doctors salaries have too been increased to motivate frontline medical personnel.
The UN, the biggest international body has risen to help the people world over in the Coronavirus fi ght. Indeed, as the saying, “ however big a tree is it will never be a forest“. This is the time need UN than before. It has sensitized the masses, offered fi nancial and medical support to many via it’s agency, WHO. China, South Africa, Italy, and most African countries among others have benefi tted. The international body has also imparted hope among people across the globe, reassuring them that the pandemic will soon be over, and everything will come back to normal.
Though the global democracy has to a larger extent been put to test and at a verge of almost collapsing it can still be retrieved. The COVID-19 pandemic should not erode us of the trust we had in our governments. I strongly believe that if the governments worldwide cooperate with their citizens, we can escape the fangs of this deadly monster and become masters of own destiny. The punctures can be repaired, and we can all together become victorious over the coronavirus with our democracy not necessarily being dismantled.