Bobi Wine’s party NUP to defy COVID-19 vaccine mandate for MPs

Joel Ssenyonyi, the National Unity Platform [NUP] party spokesman. COURTESY PHOTO

Kampala, Uganda | URN | The National Unity Platform (NUP), the party with the largest number of opposition legislators has said it is going to defy the Deputy Speaker’s order banning all unvaccinated people from accessing the Parliament of Uganda.

Last week, Anita Among, the Deputy Speaker said that nobody including MPs, support staff and the public will be allowed to access Parliament unless they can prove that they are vaccinated.

But speaking in Kampala on Monday 1, November 2021, Joel Ssenyonyi, the spokesperson of NUP who himself an MP representing Nakawa West constituency said Among’s order is not only illegal, but also runs contrary to the current COVID-19 realities where the number of vaccines available are fewer than the population eligible for vaccination.

Ssenyonyi said NUP MPs on Tuesday 2, November 2021 will be at Parliament but will carry no vaccination cards for proving that they were jabbed.

In a letter written on October 29th addressed to Members of Parliament (MPs), support staff and the general public, Henry Yoweri Waiswa, the deputy clerk to parliament, said the order is aimed at increasing uptake of the COVID-19 jabs that are currently available in the country.

“The office of the Speaker is in agreement with the President’s observation and in the communication of the Deputy Speaker…. at the sitting of parliament Thursday, October 28, 2021, she gave a directive that access to the precincts of parliament should be restricted to Members of Parliament, staff and visitors that will show proof of vaccination against COVID-19,” Waiswa’s letter reads in part.

Parliament is not the first institution to limit access to unvaccinated visitors and staff members. The National Medical Stores (NMS), the Ministry of Health and a number of Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) have in the past few weeks restricted access to their premises. However, the ministry of health is yet to make it illegal for unvaccinated people to access certain public premises.

Uganda considers restrictions for unvaccinated people to public places

Meanwhile, NUP has called upon the Uganda Prisons Services specifically, and government generally to allow MPs Muhammad Ssegirinya and Allan Ssewanyana access medical treatment outside prisons where they are currently on remand. The two MPs were last week denied bail by the Masaka High Court following their re-arrest on charges of murder that rocked greater Masaka area two months ago.

“They are in extremely bad shape and what we hear about Ssegirinya is that he has been taken to hospital and we get information that sometimes he is convulsing,” Senyonyi said.

“Nobody is allowed to access him, not even his family, not his lawyers to establish his status. We have been making the clarion call saying they are leaders who are not going to run away. Please release them so that they can access better health care. What will Museveni tell Uganda if Ssegirinya dies in this drama? Why doesn’t the government want him to go and access better health care? If anything happens to them, their blood is on their hands,” Ssenyonyi added.

In a related development, NUP also called upon President Museveni to stop politicizing security matters. Ssenyonyi said the suggestion that politicians and Muslims could have been behind the bombings at Komamboga and in a Swift bus could lead the security away from focusing on the real culprits.