Uganda’s Misplaced Priorities 

What is the way forward!

In the past weeks Health practitioners in government health facilities in Uganda, have laid down there tools protesting their poor remuneration and working conditions. As I type out this, there is yet to be a promising end to this industrial action. Patients, majority of which are poor working class, who used to frequent these facilities, are now left with no option but to go back home and wait to die. Private health facilities are out of reach for these poor souls because they are exorbitantly expensive.

The government has deployed army and police doctors to help rescue the situation but they are severely overwhelmed. The government has also threatened to fire the striking doctors! The states response is more in form of threats than actual solutions to the issue. Apparently there is no money! Doctors have joined teachers, government prosecutors and public university staff who have previously engaged in running industrial action strikes.

Uganda is a struggling economy and one can sympathise with the government if it is not the same government that conveniently ditched out 29 million shillings to each of the hundreds of legislators to facilitate consultations on the presidential age limit bill! This looks like a bribe to the legislators so that they can fidget with the constitution.  The same government funds the acquisition and maintaining of the legislators SUV guzzlers! Same government facilitated the construction of a world class high tech parking facility for the said SUVs. The same government that has no money to increase doctors salaries can afford to operate a 40 million dollar Gulf Stream V presidential jet ….On top of a pair of Mercedes Pullman Guard limousines at a base price of 1 million dollars each!

The state house daily expenditure is in the hundreds of millions of shillings. Needless to mention are the corruption scandals that have plagued this nation in which billions of shillings meant to better the welfare of the wanainchi have been stolen by government officials. GAVI, Katosi, Temangalo, Junk helicopters I can go on all day. The same government spends tens of billions of shillings on sending its officials to Europe and America for health services that are or would’ve been available at home for a fraction of the cost.

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Image Credits: Illustration by Mr. Ras, Source; The New Vision

So it is pretty much clear, if the purpose for the funds is to keep the ruling party in power or facilitate their comfortable lives, the monies shall be made available in no time. But if it is about improving the morale of teachers, doctors or any other sector that directly affects the common man the official response is no money.  I am not saying that the money the government spends on all these activities is enough to cater for every striking sector. The state house needs to maintain a certain level of security in form of armored transport and all but basking in billion dollars of luxury while the rest of the population lacks the basics of life is unacceptable. The government does have money but its priorities are not pubic welfare centered!

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