The Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, has told MPs that the night time curfew put in place to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic remains in place.
Last week, Parliament asked Premier Rugunda to present an update on the need to continue having the curfew, with the hope that government could after all end it.
Rugunda, however, angered MPs during the Tuesday, 13 April 2021 sitting when he maintained that the 9p.m. to 6a.m. curfew will not be lifted.
“As you are aware and from the information that we have been receiving from our scientists and the Ministry of Health, the threat and scourge of COVID-19 is still very much with us,” said Rugunda.
The premier said this is not the time to relax COVID-19 protocols.
“Projections indicate that we should not relax our guard because the number of positive cases reported have started unfortunately to increase, especially in urban areas, border districts and trading centres. This is coupled by the reported cases of new fast spreading, and possibly more deadly variants of COVID-19,” he said.
Rugunda announced that in the coming days, President Yoweri Museveni will address the country on the COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
MPs, however, were not amused.
“Informally, curfew is no longer there in most parts of Uganda. We want to officially get curfew out of our way. Curfew has lost meaning and has been totally abused,” said MP Latif Ssebagala (IND, Kawempe North).
Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Ms Betty Aol Ocan, dismissed the continuation of the night time curfew as unresearched, and that it has outlived its usefulness.
“I request you to go and revisit the communication which you have given to us; do your research well and help the people of Uganda,” she said.
MP Cecilia Ogwal (FDC, Dokolo), agreed with Ocan, saying the Prime Minister should advise the President to abandon the idea of keeping the curfew in place.
“When you go back, tell the President what people are feeling and our concern about curfew; you should advise the President,” she said.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, too, joined in putting Premier Rugunda to task.
“We had campaigns, did it cause a spike in COVID-19? The Churches are there, the Mosques are there, what is special about 9p.m. and 6a.m.? You better get better reasons,” she said.
Internal Affairs Minister Gen. Abubakhar Jeje Odongo said in light of the holy month of Ramadhan, it is erroneous to suggest that the curfew should be lifted for the Taraweh, which is night time prayers.
Gen. Odongo said the prayers are optional and are not supposed to necessarily be conducted in the Mosques, but that they could be performed at home, too.
On Monday, a message from the Assistant Inspector General of Police Edward Ochom had suggested that Police officers would relax the curfew implementation and be flexible, especially with Muslims attending the night prayers.
Gen. Odongo, however, criticised Ochom for issuing the message, saying it has since been withdrawn and that Ochom was not authorised to send the message.
President Yoweri Museveni announced the curfew alongside a raft of measures in March 2020, following the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.