Before you hang your MP

I go to bed every day these days hearing people knocking at my door. This is because knocking and opening the door has become the main activity in my home. 

Hundreds of people especially women, some carrying babies, storm my gate as early as 5 am. I no longer need the sound of the Muslim caller at the nearby mosque, calling for the morning prayer, for me to wake up. 

The bang, sometimes, a heavy one on my gate is enough to force everybody in my home out of bed.

The food relief, Mr. Museveni announced as he locked down the country on March 30, has not reached my constituency, home of nearly 200,000 vulnerable people as I write this article 20 days later.

Remember the six kilograms of maize flour and three kilograms of beans were meant for the fourteen days, Museveni announced first. The 14 days ended with only 10% of the 1.5 million targeted people reached. These are the vulnerable people in Kampala and Wakiso.

It is as if I am the one who announced the lockdown. The knocks at my gate started almost immediately. I asked the first group of women who came whether Museveni had also announced that MPs would be the ones to distribute food and they laughed.

When I gave them something, it is as if I issued an invitation to every vulnerable person in Kira. And even if you have a hard heart, the emotions on people’s faces will break it.

An old woman, the age of my mother (73) kneels before you calling you “Taata (father)” and pleading for “at least a kilo of maize flour.” And these hungry people are not even observing the social-distancing guidelines.

 At the beginning, I put a container of water and soap for them to wash their hands before I attend to them something they no longer observe. In the initial days of the lockdown, people were calling me to put containers in the markets and soap which have also waned. “Tufa(we are dying), we need food,” is all that they demand these days.

I have handled these hungry people in two ways. Those that come at my gate, I give Shs 5000 which buys two kilograms of maize flour. I have also sent sacks of maize flour to those calling from their homes. Members of the ‘Team Ssemujju’ are doing the distribution.

In areas such as Kasokoso, the LCs have established porridge feeding centres. All that they ask of me, is to periodically send sacks of maize flour. They in turn send me photos of people queuing for porridge. It is dehumanizing seeing pregnant women in porridge lines.

This is the situation the debate on the allocation of Shs 10 billion for MPs to participate in the fight against the spread of coronavirus has found me in. The Speaker said each MP will receive Shs 20 million to buy fuel for ambulances and to do general mobilization and sensitization. 

There are people calling upon MPs to return this money as soon as it reaches their bank accounts. For me who is looking for food to feed my people, this debate is a luxury.

I need this and more money from whichever source to keep the maize flour flowing. I have become a regular buyer of maize flour from Mandela Millers and the prices keep fluctuating. I have used every single coin in my possession. 

Like I said on Capital Radio on Saturday, I have to balance morality and starvation. If this money is ever given to me, I will use it to buy more posho. I have in the past reversed controversial payments. Forgive me, it is a luxury I cannot afford this time.


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