The NRM party will not conduct mass rallies nor hold processions because it would put the public at risk in light of the raging Covid-19 pandemic, President Museveni who is also the NRM presidential flag-bearer has said.
Addressing a select group of party leaders in Apac today (Wednesday), on his second day of campaigning in Lango sub-region, President Museveni said the NRM had decided it would engage voters through house-to-house mobilization.
“If it was safe, there would be rallies and nobody would have bigger rallies than the NRM but we care about your safety. Don’t join those enemy groups forming crowds that will put people in danger. This bankruptcy of calling people in such dangerous times is criminal and we are going to deal with these people,” he said.
The President, who is conducting his campaign at sub-region level, has been meeting groups of not more than 70 NRM leaders, under strict adherence to Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) issued by the Electoral Commission and the Ministry of Health.
Health Minister Jane Ruth Achieng yesterday issued new guidelines, saying the numbers for the political gatherings could be raised to 200 from the earlier 70, but with a strict adherence to SoPs.
Earlier today, the Electoral Commission Warner that some candidates were conducting processions along public roads, through towns and trading centres, and are also holding rallies in non-designated venues as per the harmonised campaign programme. “This is in violation of the Commission’s Guidelines that the campaigns should be conducted in observance of Standard Operating Procedures (social distancing, hand washing, and wearing of masks) and in designated places,” said EC boss Justice Simon Byabakama.
The Commission further accused some candidates and their supporters of not wearing face masks during public meetings, which puts all participants, including the candidates, at the risk of contracting COVID-19.
“This conduct is unacceptable considering that as at 10th November 2020, the cumulative COVID-19 infection cases in Uganda stood at 14,704 with 133 deaths so far registered in the country,” said Byabakama.
“The Commission reiterates that processions and public/mass rallies remain banned in accordance with the measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he added.
“Non-compliance with the Guidelines issued for the campaign period will necessitate intervention by law enforcing agencies, among other measures.”
A Better Lango
President Museveni said it was visible that the welfare of the people of Lango had greatly improved, pointing to the large number of corrugated iron-sheet houses he had observed on his way from Baralege State Lodge in Otuke to the meeting venue in Apac.
This development, he said, was courtesy of NRM’s correct political ideology coupled with structures built over the years.
“This starts with how you manage society. If you manage it well, it will gradually develop. The NRM came with an ideology focusing on the needs of the people rather than identity and that is why we are succeeding,“ he said.
The President added: “This also helped us build a national army and this has been able to guarantee peace in the country. This is the first time in 500 years when there is total peace in the country from corner to corner.”
About compensation for cattle in Acholi, Lango and Teso sub-regions, the President said the government will increase the money to Shs50 billion per sub-region so that matter is resolved once and for all.
The NRM national Chairman also said roads in Lango will be fixed and maintained, widened and strengthened, citing the Tororo-Mbale-Soroti-Lira-Kamdini and Rwenkunyu roads.
In their quest to look for NRM votes, President Museveni said, the NRM leaders should not forget to remind the people of the need to shift form subsistence farming to commercial farming so as to improve their household income
He reiterated that the need for Ugandans to be more vigilant and treat the Covid-19 pandemic seriously because more people were dying.
He encouraged them to adhere to the SOPs and practice the ‘Tonsemberara campaign’.
NRM vice chair for the North and Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanya, said since the NRM took power, there was notable fundamental change in the country.
“When you came and took power in this nation, you promised a fundamental change and we have witnessed it. The peace, security, that you are brought are a sign that you are a promise keeper. The people of this country trust you with their own lives because they know that you will keep them safe,” he said.
Done with Lango sub-region, President Museveni tomorrow (Thursday) shifts attention to West Nile sub-region.