YUMBE. The members of Yumbe district taskforce were during the Covid-19 taskforce meeting on Wednesday thrown into a confusion following the clash between the resident district commissioner(RDC) and the district chairperson over the laxity of the community in observing the SOPs.
Trouble started after the security personnel accused the political leadership of the district of frustrating their efforts in implementing the directives in containing the pandemic in the district.
As the positivity cases in Yumbe are on the increase, the members of the taskforce have called for an end to the resistance of the community in violating the Covid-19 guidelines and not following the SOPs.
Mr Tom Karahutsya, the acting DPC said fighting the pandemic needs a collective role of all the stakeholders and the community.
"When we are implementing the SOPs, we face resistance from the community. Let this fight for the pandemic not be a security issue but rather a community fight", he said.
He said their plan is not to beat the people but to enforce on the SOPs so that people's lives are saved but when security faces resistance during the enforcement, it discourages them.
Lt Col Paul Ssebugenyi, the UPDF operations commander of the 69th battalion said what the political leadership's mind is only the protection of their positions so that they can be voted again in 2025.
He said when a person is arrested for violating Covid-19 guidelines, you receive phone calls everywhere from the political leaders to demand for the release of such a person and there is no adherence to the SOPs by the community.
"All of us are supposed to enforce and we should all behave like a watchman to Covid-19 pandemic. Why should the political leaders defend offenders and are they protecting their positions so that they are re-elected in 2025? We should first of all think of our lives but not politics because 2025 is still very far", he said.
Dr Charles Onek, a medical officer at IRC said they on weekly basis during the taskforce meetings come up with very good decisions but nothing is implemented.
"Partners keep coming with support but how long shall we continue lobbying for support when nothing is done to avert the cause of the problem? Let's admit that in this place, we are dealing with difficult people. The people here are those who want to see corona coming, walking and killing someone for them to believe that there is corona”, he said.
"You give people the correct message but someone comes after you and begins to threaten you. What kind of situation is this? For me I have talked as a citizen of this country because I have felt it, because it's not easy in the CTU, so if somebody wants to attack me should do so as an individual but not IRC staff", Dr Onek added.
While pointing fingers at the district chairperson, Dr Onek said it's very critical at this moment to take actions adding that when dialogue fails, there is need for the taskforce to come up with stringent measures in order to succeed in containing the pandemic.
Mr Abdulmutwalib Asiku, the district chairperson said he doesn't stop the enforcement of the presidential directives and the SOPs but his concern is on how to do the enforcement.
"Enforcement is not all about getting "kiboko"(sticks) and beating people but enforcement is about telling people the right thing. In the first wave, when the president issued directives about enforcement, the LDUs became too excessive and they were later suppressed, so my concern had been on the issue of using excessive force during the enforcement by the security personnel", he said.
"Many people registered complaints in my office for being tortured by the security personnel but enforcement doesn't mean that people have to be brutalised. If the taskforce is going to begin brutalising the communities for not respecting the presidential directives and SOPs, I will not be part of it", Mr Asiku added.
He said, there are a number of interventions that they can do to address the matter like dialogue but not necessarily using force.
But Ms Caroline Angolere, the RDC refuted the claims of the district chairperson that the security personnel are brutalising the community.
She said when the police arrested and took some suspects to the police station, the district chairperson himself went to the police station to plead for the suspects and nobody was beaten that day.
"I want to challenge the district chairperson that if the allegation he brought is true, let him profile a list of people who have been beaten and those beaten should lodge complaints in a formal way so that they are handled. I want to direct that the security personnel should continue with the enforcement to achieve the results we are sitting here for every week", she said.
"We can't continue watching people doing the same things like this. When the Police/UPDF tortures a person, there are laws and mechanisms used to punish such officers", she added.
The RDC said when the community is confused by the leaders, they become resistant and the current scenario is that the community feels that they have some protection from the political side which they need to deal with accordingly.
Cumulatively, Yumbe has registered a total of 439 cases with 11 deaths but the positivity rate has risen from 37 new cases (5.3 per cent) to 68 new cases(8.4 per cent) this week.