Uganda: Let's Support Virtual Campaigns - Museveni

Yoweri Museveni.

President Museveni has asked Ugandans to support virtual campaigns ahead of the 2021 General Election as a measure against the spread of coronavirus.

Addressing the nation last evening on Covid-19, Mr Museveni explained that the decision was reached after consultations with scientists who advised that it was the safest mode to conduct campaigns instead of postponing elections.

Mr Museveni said the EC was confronted with three questions of whether political candidates can continue to conduct campaigns without a vaccine or drug to treat coronavirus, whether to postpone the elections or if they can use a hybrid election for the safety of Ugandans.

The EC settled for the latter. "They opted for number three because the danger is in holding of public gatherings. If you eliminate those and messages of the contestants are passed on through the radios, TVs, socio-media, the gathering for the elections themselves, can be safely managed with handwashing, and social distancing... ," Mr Museveni said.

"This would remove the uncertainty that would be created by the postponement of the elections but also ensure that elections are held safely. I call upon Ugandans to support this option because it can work if all concerned do their assignment diligently," he added.

Mr Museveni also relaxed movement in 32 border districts which haven't registered coronavirus cases in the recent two weeks.

14 districts that will stay locked are;

a. Rakai, Kyotera, Amuru, Buikwe, Gulu, Arua, Adjumani, Moyo, and Nebbi (clusters of infections under investigation)

b. Zombo, Adjumani and Arua (districts with refugees, need more testing)

c. Busia and Bulisa (districts with major border/water points).

The rest of the border districts can be opened with vigilance.

Education institutions will also remain closed.

In the meantime, Mr Museveni said government would provide a radio per homestead to facilitate distance learning that they are soon launching. Although he said he had received petitions from boda boda supporters, places of worship, arcades and an appeal to lift curfew, he maintained their restriction and encouraged social distancing.

Key points

1. Curfew time will stay from 7pm to 6.30am.

2. Private vehicles can now carry four, up from three passengers, including the driver.

3. Boda bodas will continue carrying cargo, not passengers.

4. Places of worship still closed.

5. Arcades will stay closed.

6. Mobile markets, just like the arcades, will stay closed.

7. Hawkers (ing), vendors should be discouraged.

8. Bodies can be repatriated for burial but with strict SOPs from Health and Foreign Affairs ministries.

9. Salons will stay closed.

10. Travel in and out of Uganda for medical reasons should be barred, in principle.

11. More mapping has been to determine which border districts should be opened and which stay locked.

12. Education institutions will stay closed.

13. The Independent Electoral Commission has proposed a "scientific" electoral process.

14. Ministries of Education and Gender should register people affected by the lockdown, such as the salon operators, private universities, private secondary schools and private primary schools staff so that they can be helped, not with free money, but cheap capital when their activities resume.

pahimbisibwe@ug.nationmedia.com

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