Civil society members have expressed their displeasure over how Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati despised the curfew orders imposed by the government.
The night fundraising meeting towards the funeral expenses of Wangamati’s deceased supporter at Mitukuyu village in Webuye East Sub County on Friday, July,2 attracted a mammoth gathering which didn’t observe Covid 19 protocols as well as the government’s imposed restrictions on gatherings beyond 7 pm.
The governor who appeared not bothered with curfew deadlines mingled with mourners at the home and promised goodies to the electorate who didn’t follow Covid 19 protocols until the gathering was dispersed by police officers from Webuye police station using tear gas.
Bungoma County Police Commander Dr. Mutungi Musyoki said the police dispersed the illegal gathering that was held beyond 7 pm after getting a tip-off from the members of the public.
The county police boss warned leaders to refrain from actions that may lead to the spread of the Coronavirus adding that application of the law will not be done selectively irrespective of the status of a person in society.
“On receiving intelligence to that effect, Police officers from Webuye East led by their OCPD moved very fast and teargassed them. None is above the law and we don’t enforce selectively,” he said.
“We They added, “We appeal to the members of the public to share information regarding anybody violating the curfew order and any other offense. We are advocating for a society where everyone respects the laws of the country,”.
Speaking to the media today Citizens for Good Governance director Phillip Wekesa condemned the conduct by the governor and other politicians to overlook government directives adding that violation of government orders by public servants will lead to an outbreak of the coronavirus that may not be contained by the limited health facilities that are already overstretched.
“Hospitals are already overstretched and there is no oxygen, shy should public servants in high positions lead the way in increasing infections as police watch?,” said Wekesa.
He said that the citizens can’t observe Covid protocols while receiving handouts from politicians at night adding that the hard economic times would automatically drive residents to crowd around politicians and increase infections.
Wekesa blamed police for selective application of the law adding that the civil society members would move to court to stop the governor and other leaders from holding illegal meetings deliberately while opening avenues that will lead to the spread of the disease.
The Ministry of Health had announced last week that 60 percent of Kenya’s new infections were in the western Kenya counties.
It was the first time the government has issued such restrictions in areas far away from Nairobi.
The positivity rate in the western counties is 21 percent, 12 percent more than the national average.
To curb the spread of the virus, the ministry introduced a 7 pm to 4 am curfew and banned public gatherings and non-food markets for 30 days.
Bungoma county, one of the 13 counties under curfew s in danger of increased infections and Covid deaths after health workers promised to down tools today as a result of the county government withholding the May salaries of the workers.
Last week Governor Wangamati was summoned to the Senate to shed light on sh 391 million meant for May salaries that were allegedly diverted to pay contractors.
Controller of Budgets Margaret Nyakang’o affirmed before the Senate Committee on health that the money had been used for other purposes.
Wangamati said that the money was intact in the county government accounts but county government workers have not been paid.
“The strike by health workers may cause havoc and affect the fight against the covid pandemic and other chronic ailments,” said Wekesa.
The MCA of Muhiu ward Violet Makhanu who did not even bother to put on a mask in the meeting hailed the governor for initiating development projects adding that she will be at the forefront in advocating for the re-election of the county boss.
Bungoma county borders Eastern Uganda where the third wave of the coronavirus has killed almost 1000 people in less than 21 days.
The third wave that has hit Uganda leading to a total lockdown of the country may adversely affect Bungoma, Busia, and Siaya counties since the people living in these counties share borders, engage in cross border business, do smuggling through porous borders and have a common ancestry with residents of Eastern Uganda who have been greatly affected by the third wave of the coronavirus.
Director of communications,Tim Machi said that the governor had visited the mourners in their households including the family of the Deputy Principal Kibabii boys high school where he was the BOG chairman before he won the Gubernatorial seat.
“You cannot limit the Governor, he is not your peer, when he chooses to see the family at night is because he is aware of the danger of Covid and no officer can just disperse. We met families in their house and he will continue meeting families and nobody should lie to you that he can disperse the Governors meeting,” said Machi.
He said the police statement was biased as they have done nothing to stop the other leaders from attending funerals at many funerals yesterday.
“Who else is accused of flaunting requirements apart from Governor. Why is it not a point of contention when Senator, Senate Speaker and other politicians attend funerals without following protocols. If they can fail to condemn all sides then they are biased,”.
Why is it that they are giving a one-sided story and not condemning the crowding at funerals by senator Wetang’ula, speaker Lusaka.
The Ugandan government has decided to approve a locally made herbal treatment for COVID-19 amid a third wave that has claimed the lives of many people.
As a result of a shortage of drugs authorized to be used for emergencies by the WHO, pharmacists in Uganda have been allowed by the government to use the herbal medicine, Covidex to save lives.
Uganda received 175,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine that is inoculating only frontline workers. 856,025 people have been vaccinated in the country while most of the people have resorted to using Covidex to treat COVID-19 symptoms.
“The product has been formulated from herbal plants that have been traditionally used to alleviate symptoms of several diseases,” Nahamya said.
“To further the efficacy of the drug for other uses, NDA [Uganda’s National Drug Authority] has advised the manufacturer to conduct random controlled clinical trials, which are the highest level of evidence to ascertain any claims of treatment.”
“Has been notified to be sold in licensed drug outlets for supportive treatment in the management of viral infections but not as a cure of COVID-19,” Nahamya said Dr. David Nahamya, executive director of Uganda’s drug authority.
However, Dr. Solome Okware of the WHO’s Uganda office said Covidex wasn’t among the traditional medicines that were evaluated.
“WHO has not received any information about this product,” Okware said.
The WHO had consulted researchers in 9 African countries to research the use of herbal medicine that can treat the Covid 19 pandemic.
Dr. Samuel Opio, secretary of the Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda, said that while there were concerns about misuse of Covidex by the public, its approval was a positive step.
“Whatever is currently being approved [for] emergency use in the U.S. are not available in Uganda,” Opio said. “So the issue of lack of a treatment, the issue of inaccessibility to even what is approved for emergency use, means that we need to also look for local solutions to the global challenges, and herbal treatment is one area.”