Kampala, Uganda | URN | With just five days to the end of the 21 day lockdown and government still struggling to distribute food to vulnerable groups in Kampala and Wakiso districts, President Yoweri Museveni has allowed religious leaders to join the effort.
Mr Museveni met the religious leaders at State House Entebbe on Wednesday 29th evening under their umbrella the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) led by their Chairman Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje, the Mufti of Uganda.
In a press statement issued by the Presidential Press Unit, Museveni agreed with the religious leaders to start distributing food provided they are working with COVID-19 task forces at the district level and comply with the standard operating procedures issued by the Health Ministry.
According to the statement, Museveni appealed to the religious leaders to distribute food to only targeted groups, who are paid when they work and don’t get a salary. Museveni asked the religious leaders to be truthful during this campaign and refrain from seeking cheap popularity by trying to please all people.
This, Museveni said would save government from wasting resources on feeding people who can feed themselves. “We don’t want to make people so lame by becoming dependent on food handouts. I need to agree with you on the strict definition of who you should give food. Even when you are bringing up children, there should never be an idea of free things. Some people are mixing this with poverty eradication which is wrong. Medicine for poverty has other bigger programs like wealth creation,” Museveni said.
The President advised that the food should be distributed using the inter-denominational approach, which focuses on everybody as opposed to individual groups. Museveni has repeatedly said that it’s only the government that should distribute food and all those who wish to do so should go through the COVID-19 National Task force. He vowed to arrest and charge with attempted murder anyone found flouting this directive.
The religious leaders also asked the president to assist faith based media houses by exempting them from paying taxes and other dues to the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC). Museveni promised to discuss the matter with Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) to allow the request until the COVID-19 problem ends.
Bishop Lwere, the overseer of the National Fellowship of Born Again Pentecostal Churches who was voted to represent IRCU on the COVID-19 fund said that they desired to work hand in hand with government on food distribution because religious leaders have a rapid reach to the people at the grass roots in the shortest time possible and that they had gained trust and confidence from most of them.
The meeting was attended by the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda Dr. Steven Kaziimba Mugalu, the Archbishop of Kampala Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, Pastor Joseph Sserwadda, the Head of Born Again Churches among others.