FARUK KIRUNDA: How Covid-19 disarmed President Museveni’s foes

“Does Museveni also fall sick? Is it true he is sick or he is up to something? Is Covid-19 still there? How did he acquire the disease? How come he is the only patient we know? Should we expect a lockdown?”

These are some of the questions that have been on the lips and in the minds of people following President Museveni’s revelation that he had been tested and found positive for Covid-19. A mighty warrior, who led the struggle against the killer viral disease and in the process saved the lives of millions, was now its victim albeit an extended period of adhering to precautionary measures religiously.

Yes, that’s why it’s prudent to remain vigilant until the disease is declared by scientists to have been eradicated and that there are no more pockets of it in the community. If President Museveni had not been very vigilant, he would have caught the disease much earlier given the great number of people he interacts with daily. And in the process, he would have spread it to more people, again, for the same reason of meeting a very big number of people.

The President must have got infected because most others have thrown all caution to the wind. Even when there is a standard procedure of testing those he meets and those in his close circle, there must have been someone who passed through that sieve.

Fortunately, he is fully vaccinated and boosted, and Covid-19 is now mild, unlike the strong one that ravaged the world.

In all this, Covid-19 brought on unexpected answers to claims that had been propagated by the President’s detractors to the effect that he is clinging on to power and is not ready for a transition of any kind.

First of all, the President willingly, without any duress from any source that I know of, declared his status-on national TV and radio (when giving his State of the Nation Address). Even taking the test was voluntary after he felt some discomfort. Dictators and power hungry rulers are infamous for, among other things, concealing their health status so tightly that if anybody revealed such information, they would be executed. I won’t name anybody but everybody knows this. Dictators don’t want anything to demystify their power and show them as weak or immortal. But here was Museveni freely telling the world that like any other human being, he can become indisposed.

But the President is a stickler for prevention and is always careful about his health and that of others. It’s what keeps him healthy and fit, defying his age. He has been blessed that he generally doesn’t suffer from ailments associated with old age.

Nevertheless, after revealing his status, he went on to delegate his powers to Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja, someone who is not among the First Five in the National Hierarchy and whom many detractors have attempted to despise even in the Premier’s docket. The Vice President, H.E Jessica Alupo, who would be the direct “substitute” was away on official duties but if the President was not “democratic”, he would just ignore everyone and leave the country in abeyance until he emerges from isolation.

And when he “handed over” power, the country has been operating normally. In uncertain places, even a few hours of power in different hands can lead to disaster but Uganda remained functional. This means that a transition is not the biggest worry for Ugandans but having leaders that will consolidate the gains of President Museveni, not those coming to tear down what has been put in place and take us back into odd times.

Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago was heard saying that the President was not sick and was feigning illness because of pressure from the international community over his signing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Was this the first time H.E was under pressure of any kind? He is always handling heavy business from all over the world. And if he feigned sickness, how would that help? Kira Municipality MP, Hon. Ssemujju Ibrahim also claimed then President was playing tricks. May be he thinks because in opposition there are “actors” it’s the same with Museveni. That’s a big joke because the Museveni I know did not come into leadership to play games. And by the way, this level of sadism is regrettable. Some things are not mocked, such as illness and death and every one of us has been sick at some point including the Lord Mayor. I don’t know how it would be if we said “No! He is not sick. No treatment for him”. How many would live?

Anybody celebrating another’s misfortune or underplaying it can only reap regret. Let’s be human even amidst artificial differences.

We thank God for the President’s health and fitness and pray for a full recovery, and return to the full service of the nation and the Ugandans he so much cherishes, and whom he has unreservedly offered his energy, time and mind resources to liberate from all societal ills, within his power.

The author is the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary

Contact: faruk.kirunda@statehouse.go.ug