Hon. Jane Ruth Acheng is doing a great job leading her team in Uganda’s fight against Coronavirus.That team’s handling of passengers at Entebbe has been pretty shoddy at the very least.Those two things can both be true at the same time.Between those praising the minister fervently and those looking for any reason to bring her down, is the messy reality of life that doesn’t quite fit into cute little purity tests.I have been in touch with people that have come through the airport over the past couple of days and are currently in isolation. Here’s what one of them told me:
“I hate that people think we don’t want to be here. We have no problem being in quarantine, we all came ready to self-isolate. The problem is they were not prepared for it. So this isn’t a medical quarantine, it’s a detention. None of the best practices for such a situation are being followed. Social distancing is useless since they brought us here crammed on a coaster like cattle. We have been having our meals buffet style in the same restaurant. It’s pointless to isolate us on day 4. All we have asked, consistently, is that they keep us here in a safe manner. They have failed to do so, and that’s what we are not happy about, not the fact that we are actually here.”
Those being petty about the Minister’s outbursts and those defending her like she can do nothing wrong are neither being realistic, nor helpful. The reality is that just because one is doing a great job doesn’t mean they get everything right. Entebbe hasn’t been well handled.First, why are people being asked to pay $100 per person? If this money was going to the ministry’s purse, perhaps there’d be some merit to it. But there’s a hotel owner somewhere, charging the full accommodation fee as if it is business as usual and we are supposed to be okay with that? If any hotel wants to serve as an isolation centre, they need to do so in service to country, not to self. That means charging the cost fee as opposed to profiteering off this crisis.Before being selected by government, Central Inn was charging $70 for a double room. Revising that rate upwards in times like these not only goes in the opposite direction of what they should be doing, but also means that government has either not done the due diligence they should be doing or are in bed with this capitalist mafia takeover. Either way, the line minister has some questions to answer. And to demand for them is not unpatriotic. Either someone is ripping government off or government is ripping off the people it’s meant to protect.
Then there’s the social distancing thing. If someone has been in isolation for 5 days and then comes into contact with someone that’s just come in, it’s pointless to say they continue counting down their 14 days. Because what that means is that someone could easily contract the virus on day 14 on their way out of the hotel because they ate their last supper with someone that had just come in and is infected. Again, pointing this out needn’t be seen as being opposed to the minister’s commendable efforts. If anything, it’s a ‘pull up your socks’ kind of critique.
Our nation, like the rest in the world, is learning as we go along. We will not be perfect at everything. Our leaders, especially those that are clearly high performers and service-oriented need our support. But that support need not be blind and unquestioning. It is the hallmark of good civic duty to hold those that serve accountable. They may be doing a good job, but that’s exactly what it is; a job. One that is paid for by taxpayers.We have the right to call our employees to order.Even the best performers.