Maverick city lawyer and head of human rights law firm dubbed Chapter Four Uganda, Nicholas Opiyo has this morning urged the government to consider declaring a state of emergency and dismiss elections if other sectors like education are not reopened. His argument comes at a time when parents at border districts like Mutukula are taking their children to neighbouring Tanzania to proceed with their education after losing hope in Uganda’s education ministry.
Speaking at the NBS morning breeze show, the lawyer said it is unfair to continue locking down other sectors as though the country is in a state of emergency and yet it’s never been declared. “My view is that if we have closed schools and churches, we should also postpone elections and declare a State of Emergency because we are behaving like we are in a State of Emergency, yet we have not declared it. It is going to be very hard to follow the COVID-19 guidelines in the Electoral process,” he said.
He also argues that the government should approach covid just like it has done with other diseases. “Malaria and TB kill more people in our country than COVID-19. We haven’t locked down because of malaria and TB. We have to approach COVID-19 as we did with HIV,” Opiyo advises. The lawyer also warns that the downtrodden class is likely to stagnate if the lockdown is not lifted on some sectors. “Some of the measures put in place to curb COVID-19 are disproportionate and target classes. It has left the poor choosing between life and livelihood,” he says.
However, it is important to note that president Museveni cannot declare a State of emergency as this would automatically strip him of the executive powers and shift them to the speaker of parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga as the constitution stipulates.