The government of Uganda has defied parliament’s directive to blocking the distribution of relief food to people around Kampala and Wakiso districts.
In the Thursday Parliamentary sitting, both Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and lawmakers raised issue that there was a need for government to consider all parts of the country.
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda’s attempts to explain that the government was distributing the food under an emergency plan fell on deaf ears.
Kadaga thus ruled that government’s food distribution programme was being suspended until the state explains the plan for the country.
On Friday, April, 3, 2020, Ministers Betty Amongin for Kampala Capital City Authority, Benny Namugwanya State Minister for KCCA and Musa Ecweru for Disaster Preparedness, told journalists at Uganda Media centre that due to COVID-19 crisis, Gov’t resolved to continue with the program of supplying relief food to the affected people.
The decision has since left majority of legislators questioning whether the executive arm of the government still has respect for the legislature.
On Wednesday, Premier Hon.Ruhakana Rugunda announced that this weekend they will kickstart distribution of food and other essential items to a total of 1.5m vulnerable people in Kampala and Wakiso districts as a way of mitigating the hash impact of Covid-19.
Dr. Rugunda revealed that food relief distribution will start on Saturday, 04 April 2020 in Kampala and Wakiso districts.
Rugunda who was presenting an update on the COVID-19 pandemic and response by government on Wednesday, 01, April 2020 said that the relief food will be distributed to the over 1.4 million people in urban areas who cannot afford during the lock down announced.
The Premier said that the distribution of food to be conducted at LC1 level will see 10kgs of maize flour, three of beans and packets of salt to each recipient.
“Lactating mothers and the sick will get 2kgs of powdered milk and sugar each respectively,” Rugunda said.
However, legislators were concerned about the distribution of food starting in Kampala and Wakiso.
The MPs stressed that the affected and vulnerable people are not only restricted to the urban areas but also in the rural areas.
Aringa North County MP, Hon Godfrey Onzima said there are places rural areas that are affected by the lockdown and social distancing measures taken by the government.
“Food advances should be given to all the urban poor in the country without special emphasis on Kampala and Wakiso, let the government roll it out countrywide,” he added.
Hon. Centenary Robert Franco (FDC, Kasese Municipality) suggested that there should be decentralization of the process of food purchases and distribution to ease access to the locals and reduce the costs involved.
“This process should be left to the district leadership under supervision of the MPs to make sure accountability of food distribution is thorough and less is spent,” he said.
Lamwo Woman MP, Hon Molly Lanyero said that the people of Lamwo and other districts need food because they are confined to their homes and cannot go out to gardens.
She also said that there is population pressure on food in some rural areas.
“Food access is made worse in the border communities because we have a porous border with South Sudan,” Lanyero added.
Bududa District Woman MP, Hon Justine Khainza said that the government needs to plan for the rural areas when it comes to food distribution.
“My worry is that since we export food a lot and neighboring countries like Kenya depend on us; we are at risk of farmers selling their food at better prices abroad creating scarcity. The government needs to come up with a mechanism of buying food from these farmers,” she added.
Khainza also asked the government to make sure prices of food commodities should are regulated by the government.
Hon Janet Grace Okori-Moe (NRM, Abim District) said she was disappointed with the government choosing to start food distribution in Kampala and Wakiso when there are areas that have been hit by natural disasters country-wide.