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Politics of donating money to fight Covid-19 pandemic in Uganda

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On April 29, First Lady and minister of Education, Ms Janet Museveni, donated Shs1.4 million ($370) to the National Taskforce on Covid-19 on behalf of Sabalwanyi who had pledged half of his monthly salary to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Gen Yoweri Museveni made the pledge on April 27 during his address to the nation.

According to a story published in Daily Monitor of April 29 titled, “Museveni donates half of his monthly salary to Covid-19 fight,” Sabalwanyi responded to a question asked by a Ugandan who wondered why Ugandan public servants had not given part of their hefty salaries to fight coronavirus, as was happening elsewhere in several African countries.

He replied, “You remember you people normally pay me some little money. They pay me Shs3.6 million ($950). NRM takes about 20 per cent. On the other remaining Shs2.7 million, I will instruct Janet to sign Shs1.4 million each month to the fund. Janet is the one who receives the money. I never follow up that…”

At the end of his address to the nation, the President often reads the names of persons, companies and organisations who have donated cash or basic commodities for the worthy cause of fighting and hopefully defeating the Covid-19 pandemic.

The President’s donation has not surprisingly raised concern, doubt and dust among Ugandans as reflected in Mr Odoobo Charles Bichachi’s weekly Public Editor’s Notepad of May 1 titled, “What did Daily Monitor miss on Museveni salary donation?”

I suspect most Ugandans are surprised, if not shocked, by Sabalwanyi’s alleged Shs3.6 million salary and secondly by his paltry contribution to the taskforce because he is known to be a generous giver to many unimportant causes, let alone dubious individuals. A friend who is a keen observer of Ugandan politics calls Sabalwanyi Uganda’s donor-in-chief.

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