Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The government of Uganda should consider announcing dates for reopening of all sectors of the economy to allow the people enjoy their social, economic, cultural and political rights, pundits have said.
Speaking at the 6th virtual Town Hall COVID-19 meeting on Nov.15, held under the theme, “Ending lockdown tyranny; lessons, reflections and choices beyond the Covid-19 mandates,” Alice Alaso, a former member of parliament and opposition leader said, government should consider full reopening of worship centres to allow the people enjoy their freedom of worship but also get messages of hope.
Alaso also said, vaccination is okay, but it should be by choice, not by force.
She has also tasked the government to be clear on the dates of full reopening for key sectors like education to enable people plan accordingly.
“…the government is playing cards near to their chest,” she said.
Simon Ssenyonga, a Ugandan lawyer, agreed with Alaso. “Worship centres are a social mobilization tool and that limiting their operations does not make sense,” he said.
He added that the country is losing a lot of revenue to other countries that have embraced faith-based tourism through full reopening of worship centres.
Megan Mansell, the former district education director in Florida said, full reopening of sectors like education is important partly because it allows sector players to go back to their normal life.
Mansell said, children, for example have low risk of suffering from COVID-19 negative impact because of their strong immune system which is why they should be left to go back to class as soon as yesterday.
“Children can also have undesirable immune response resulting from taking COVID vaccine,” she said in reference to moves by countries to vaccinate children against Covid.
Going forward, Mansell said, one strategy of keeping the children safe is to reduce their level of interaction with the general population.
Dr Eva Mugisa said, whereas vaccination is the way to go for full reopening of the country, medical experts and parents have the legal backing when they choose not to vaccinate their children with medical problems.
She said, the government needs to support people to understand their medical status before rushing to get the vaccine. Mugisa added, consent forms are very important to consider before administering Covid-19 vaccine to people.
Mark Changazi, an American theoretical cognitive scientist and former assistant professor, said mask mandates do not allow people to freely express their emotions.
He said, even when masks and other Covid-19 mandates are being implemented, civil rights have to be respected.
Doreen Nyangura, the deputy lord mayor for Kampala Capital City Authority said, whereas vaccination efforts are supported by majority of the people, the government has not been clear on spending on the pandemic.
For instance, she said the health budget has been smaller than the security budget during times like these when the country needed a lot of money to deal with the big health challenge.
She said, there has been exclusions in terms of education where children of the rich have accessed teachers virtually, international schools, while those of the poor have kept home for the last two years.
Nyanjura supports vaccination but puts a condition. “COVID-19 is around, we are not going to lockdown the country forever,” she said, “We need to have the vaccine and sensitize the people to go for vaccination…but it should not be on gun point; people should be given a choice.”
She also said, it does not make sense to have schools closed and worship centres partially reopened when places like markets are fully open.
“Uganda is a God-fearing country,” she said.
President Yoweri Museveni said at a recent public address that he would fully reopen the country in January 2022 after vaccinating 4.8million people.
As of Nov.14, according to the Ministry of Health data, a total of 4.8million dozes had been administered to the people, majority were yet to get their second doze.