Long wait for Covid cash sparks protest

Tuesday July 06 2021
Namugoona Protests

Residents of Namungoona Zone 1 in Rubaga Division, Kampala, burn lists from the town clerk’s office yesterday. They claimed the lists had names of people who have already died and non-residents. PHOTO | MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

By Monitor Reporter

Residents of Namungoona Zone 1 in Kampala’s Rubaga Division yesterday protested the delayed disbursement of Covid relief cash and set alight the official list of beneficiaries, claiming the compilation contained names of the deceased.

In an echo of nationwide frustration over the expected Shs100,000 cash handout by the government to about 500,000 households among sixteen vulnerable groups, the city protestors claimed particulars of legitimate would-be recipients were missing.

They claimed that the name of their former village chairperson, who has since passed on, was on the list of prospective beneficiaries listed by officials.

The government initially proposed that Local Council I chairperson would identify the vulnerable persons, but at the last minute, changed to assign town clerks and Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) officials to conduct the exercise.

Ms Christine Kabanyoro, a hair dresser, yesterday said she was missing on the list of beneficiaries yet the government had categorised employees of her category as eligible for financial help.
“Why should the government bring for us the list of dead people? Who is going to receive that money? Our Chairman David Male died, but he is on the list ,” she said.

Mr Joel Mutabuka, another resident, said he is missing on the list as well.


“There are only three people on that list who are our residents. The rest, we do not know them. Let the government go back, revisit their data and bring for us the right list,” he said.

The Namungoona Zone 1 chairperson, Ms Gertrude Biira, said only 50 out of 800 people listed on the list provided by Rubaga Division town clerk were genuine residents.

“The list has people who died some time back and non-residents,” she said.

With the number of Ugandans living below the poverty line grossing 9 million, questions have lingered on what criteria the government will adopt to include or exclude any eligible person as a beneficiary.
KCCA speaks out Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) spokesperson Daniel NuweAbine said the purpose of ongoing public display is to enable the public spot errors and weed out the dead or those who have transferred to other locations. 

“There is no need for panic. This [list containing errors in Namungoona] has been rectified,” he said.
In other parts of Uganda, Mr Seraphine Alia, the Katakwi chief administrative officer (CAO), said that he has not received a communication from the Office of the Prime Minister about the registration of Covid cash beneficiaries.

Similarly,  the Kaberamaido CAO, Mr John Kasandha, said the exercise is being restricted to urban municipalities and cities. The Soroti Deputy Town Clerk, Mr Emmanuel Okaja, said they were given only a slot of 4, 677 people yet boda boda cyclists alone number more than 2,000. “We are struggling to cater for the whole groups into the given number,” he said.

The chairman for the Inter-Religious Council for Kigezi Region,Fr Gaetano Batanyenda, described the government’s decision to exclude religious leaders from benefiting from the Covid relief fund as “malicious”, especially that worship places are closed.

Mr Deo Kamugisha and Mr Issa Tusiime, chairpersons for Mafuga Cell chaiman and Central West, respectively, in Kabale Municipality yesterday said they had not seen the list of prospective Covid cash recipients.

In Karamoja Sub-region, no registration of beneficiaries took place in Moroto and Kotido municipalities, according to Mr John Lokong, the chairman of Loputuk Village in Nadunget Sub-county.

In Masindi Municipality, Mr James Komakech, a person with disability, criticised the government for excluding them.

“I don’t walk, I don’t have anywhere to get help in this lockdown, I am always at home, the government should consider us,” he said.

Ms Janet Kasiime from Bunyangabu District said the government made a big mistake by not rolling the expected cash handout in both urban and rural areas. The Gulu City Town Clerk, Mr Edward Kiwanuka, said they had so far registered 7,500 out of the targeted 11,000 beneficiaries in the city.
“The registration is going on well albeit slow because we need to integrate the particulars of the beneficiaries to correspond with that of their national IDs, but by the end of [yesterday], we shall have registered the required target of 11,000 people for Gulu city,” he said.

Mr Charles Nyeko, the secretary of School Road Village, said about 200 beneficiaries were registered in his constituency, but he was disturbed that a parallel list for the village has emerged based on registrations done discreetly at the town clerk’s office.

Lango Sub-region has seen teachers from government-aided schools scrambling for Covid relief cash yet they have continued to receive their salaries every month even when schools are closed.
In Otuke, the district leadership has asked the government to include people in rural areas among the categories of relief recipients. The Olilim Sub-county chairman, Mr Bonny Francis Otyama, reported massive crop failure due inadequate rains in June.

The district chairman, Mr Francis Abola, said: “I don’t know why the government is only interested in giving the money to people in urban areas yet the people who are really starving are in rural areas because all the crops which were planted in the first rainy season have dried up.”

Anamaria Nyandera, 90, a resident of Kihande Cell in Masindi municipality, accused her village chairperson of depriving her of the opportunity to register for Covid cash, claiming the elderly were ineligible.


The Ministry of Gender last week issued guidelines of registration of beneficiaries of the government Covid cash, instructing town clerks to display lists of beneficiaries to ensure intended beneficiaries are on the list. It was upon the display of this list, that residents in the Namungoona area in Kampala’s Rubaga Division went up in arms when they found their particulars missing on the official list.
Each of the 501,107 households from 16 vulnerable groups in Kampala metropolitan area, cities and municipalities are slated to each receive Shs100,000.

Some government officials had said the disbursement would start today, but the earliest pay is expected by Friday this week. They include taxi and bus drivers and conductors, boda boda cyclists, street vendors, salon operators, and slum dwellers.

Compiled by Damali Mukhaye, Simon Peter Emwamu, George Muron, Robert Muhereza, Steven Ariong, Ismail Bategeka, Alex Ashaba, Tobbias Jolly Owiny, Alex Pitua & Bill Oketch