Workers came to me with problems MPs they voted back never solved – Dr Obuku

Dr. Obuku Ekwaro gained a lot of clout during the 2017 doctors’ strike.

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Until Monday 18th, January 2021 when workers voted their representatives to the eleventh parliament, Dr. Ekwaro Obuku was certain he would be among the four victorious candidates, only to take ninth position in the race of 18.  

The winners of the day included incumbents Margaret Namubiru Rwabushaija, Arinaitwe Rwakajara and former Sports Minister Charles Bakabulindi who were joined by Dr. Abudul Byakatonda the General Secretary of Uganda Scientists and Researchers Union Trustee in addition to the Women Workers’ representative Agnes Kunihira Abwooli.

Dr Obuku says his victory was only hampered by unanticipated overflow of money. He accuses his opponents of bribing voters with money to the tunes of millions.

He doesn’t only mention some names but also wonders how money could influence the class of people that are thought to be affluent. And yet, he says every delegate was facilitated with Shs350, 000 by the Electoral Commission [EC].

However, even as there was visible voter bribery, Dr Obuku is not thinking of challenging the election process but says he will continue with activism since he had hoped to start a workers’ treatment center with the clout of parliament.

While some of this competitors were dishing out money, Obuku was giving fruits and packages of medications such as dexamethasone and others that can help with COVID-19 and says before campaigns could elapse members of Bakabulinde’s Allied Workers’ Union came to him pleading that he puts across their problems. He says for the entire campaign he spent around Shs 80 million contributed mostly by the medical fraternity.

He now doubts the workers’ voice will be heard especially that the representatives are from the NRM citing that most of the grievances he recorded were from factory workers who complain of mistreatment at the hands of foreign investors but don’t know where to run to for support.  

Dr Obuku who is a non-unionized worker became popular in 2017 when as the President of Uganda Medical Association, he led a strike of doctors that dragged on, affecting hospitals across the country.  

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He would then come out strongly to oppose the move by government to import Cuban doctors in the country at the time when doctors were complaining about lack of essentials in health facilities and poor remuneration.

Since then Dr Obuku has been at the front line fighting for medical workers’ welfare, and  recently came out to push for compensation to families of doctors who succumbed to COVID-19. 

He says going forward, he hopes to start a Medical Doctors’ Union.