The opposition Forum for Democratic Change, FDC party has welcomed the partial re-opening of the country, but called on government to involve Religious leaders in the fight against COVID-19, instead of sidelining them.
Using the markets as a case study, Hon. Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda the FDC Spokesperson called for re-opening of places of Worship, especially those which are organized.
“Markets within Kampala and Wakiso remained open and heavily congested but they didn’t record alarming numbers of infections, hospitalization and deaths. Markets must therefore become the new area of research for Uganda. How did people in markets survive? This means other sectors should be re-opened. There should be no reason why Namirembe Cathedral, Rubaga, Kibuli or Old Kampala that are organized, should remain closed. Places of Worship must full reopen as long as they observe the SOPs” Nganda said.
He says places of Worship can limit numbers who attend prayers at a time, adding that they are not just for prayers but also relief coordination centres.
Hon. Nganda says that since the population trusts religious leaders, government should be asking Religious institutions to play a prominent role in relief mobilization for a section of society that cannot feed itself in case of COVID-19 shocks.
“Religious leaders from villages to National should be incorporated into COVID-19 Taskforces. In fact, if government did this during relief distribution, it would have been easy. Because there would be less suspicion and more accountability. If you have Parish priests, Sheikhs, Imams, it is easier for them to identify people who are need relief and it would enhance accountability” Hon. Nganda noted.
He says Religious institutions cannot be a target of prolonged closure each time the country is hit by a new wave. Adding that, their elaborate networks for relief and counseling purposes should be exploited.
The party spokesperson says they think the same should be done for schools. He says the Ministry should condense the syllabus to teach children quickly before the country is hit by another wave.
“The proposal to reopen schools after vaccinating children between 12 and 18 years is day dreaming. How can a country that has failed to vaccinate vulnerable people just estimated at 4 million, now begin to think of vaccinating children? The initial target was 21 million Ugandans including the 4 million vulnerable ones, we are now adding children to make it about 35 million people. You can’t feed one child and yet you are marrying second wife to produce 10, you must be a day dreamer” Nganda said.
He says that for Universities, students should only report for examinations, and can have only students doing science subjects that need practicals to be the only ones at campus.
“If schools do not reopen when COVID-19 is subsiding like now, we will land into a risk of reopening close to another wave. We need to study when these waves are coming so that we fit within their program. Last time, if the students had reported and done exams quickly, we wouldn’t be in this crisis” he advised.
Hon. Nganda says terms should be reduced from 3 months to one, so that schools can use the 1st week to report, do exams and use the 3 weeks to study. Then distribute materials and they go home, so that when they return, the students just sit exams.