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The Contradiction in Bobi Wine's COVID-19 Messages and His Political Campaign

However, after the campaigns kicked off last month, the singer does completely the opposite, mobilizing people to convene in large numbers, disregarding social distancing, and at some point, he is heard telling people at a rally not to worry if they do not have masks
posted onDecember 10, 2020

Ahead of the 2021 presidential campaigns that kicked off last month, there was a debate on whether a scientific campaign that would ensure strict adherence to the Standard Operating Procedures against COVID-19 was possible.

Among the SOPs proposed was ensuring that candidates meet small groups of not more than 200 people of which all of them must wear their masks correctly, wash hands and sanitize while maintaining social distancing.

Bobi Wine, who is a presidential candidate told NBS TV in an interview that his team had the capacity to follow the SOPs by ensuring that their supporters have masks and maintain social distancing among other SOPs suggested by the experts.

"Coming to our rallies, we can arrange for people to have masks---all of them. we can arrange for people to have social distancing among them because we have control of those rallies," Bobi Wine says in an interview with NBS TV presenter Simon Kaggwa Njala.

However, after the campaigns kicked off last month, the singer does completely the opposite, mobilizing people to convene in large numbers, disregarding social distancing, and at some point, he is heard telling people at a rally not to worry if they do not have masks!

"Don't worry if you don't have it, it is okay, if don't have the mask it is okay!" Kyagulanyi says in a video seen by the Kampala Post.

Meanwhile, as he discourages people from following guidelines to save them from contracting the deadly Coronavirus, the number of new infections and deaths from the disease continue to skyrocket.

For instance, two days ago, Uganda registered the highest number of COVID-19 deaths after 12 people succumbed to death in one day. Also, 1,199 new cases of COVID-19 were registered, the highest in a single day since the first case was registered in March.

The Ministry of Health noted in a statement released on Wednesday evening that results of COVID-19 tests done on December 8, 2020, confirmed 1,199 new cases bringing the cumulative confirmed cases to 25,059. 

"12 COVID-19 deaths registered. Of these, nine deaths occurred between December 4 and 5. However, they had to be verified before reporting. The other 3 occurred on December 9," the ministry tweeted.

The number of COVID-19 deaths has since shot to 219 from 207. 

It should be remembered that in March this year, Bobi Wine released a song to raise awareness against the coronavirus pandemic as Uganda imposed new restrictions in a bid to stem the spread of the deadly COVID-19

The singer, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, teamed up with fellow musician Nubian Li to highlight the importance of personal hygiene in the fight against the disease that has claimed the lives of over 150 Ugandans.

“The bad news is that everyone is a potential victim. But the good news is that everyone is a potential solution,” Kyagulanyi, the member of parliament for Kyadondo East constituency, raps in the song.

“Sensitise the masses to sanitise. Keep a social distance and quarantine,” adds Bobi Wine in the song.

However, he now seems to have quickly forgotten about what he sang about as he continues to mobilize hundreds of Ugandans to attend his campaign rallies without observing any of the guidelines put in place to help save lives.

In fact, the presidential candidate who is standing on the NUP ticket is facing mounting criticism since the start of campaigns for continuing to focus on gathering his supporters in crowds while downplaying the raging increase in countrywide infections and deaths from the deadly Coronavirus.

President Museveni, the NRM candidate has been meeting organised groups, urging supporters to strictly follow Covid-19 SOPs. 

Bobi Wine has struck a defiant message claiming that the Electoral Commission’s ban of crowds over covid-19 is just another trick aimed at limiting President Museveni’s opponents from reaching out to the electorate.

One however wonders if Bobi has forgotten about his song or if he was yearning for attention and relevance.

Globally, the Coronavirus wave is still sweeping across the world as scores lose lives and others keep being confirmed positive for the respiratory pandemic. 

Several Ugandan artists have already joined their voices in sensitizing the masses about the nature of the virus and what can be done to curb its spread.

Meanwhile, the government taskforce on the control of the pandemic, and other critics, have said that by refusing to abide by the set guidelines, Bobi Wine is actually endangering the life of the public and frustrating the government’s commitment to winning the war against COVID-19.

The Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Hon. Judith Nabakooba asked politicians to lead by example in fighting COVID-19 as hospitals’ intensive care units are getting overwhelmed.

“It is sad to see people crowding around presidential candidates in total disregard of any preventive guidelines… We call upon all candidates to lead by example. Do not lead your people to death when you know how they can be kept safe” Nabakooba said.

“We must therefore drop all the complacence around COVID19” She added.

In order to ensure a free and fair election while prioritizing the safety of the lives of the electorate, the Electoral Commission issued guidelines where it banned open-air mass rallies as a measure to control the spread of COVID-19.

Candidates across different levels have been asked to make good use of media and internet platforms to reach out to voters.

Opportunistic Bobi Wine

Relatedly, observers have criticized Bobi Wine's campaign for focussing on drama while avoiding the real issues that affect the people. They say Bobi Wine is an opportunist, taking advantage of pre-existing circumstances to gain political sympathy.

The comments come after the Kyadondo East Member of Parliament on Tuesday, while addressing a rally in Koboko, West Nile, told a rally to vote for rival NRM party parliamentary candidate Dr Charles Ayume.

“I have studied Mr. Ayume for a long time and he inspires me. I know he will not say anything good about me but wherever he is, tell him that I support him,” Mr. Kyagulanyi said.

Earlier while in Kamuli District, Bobi Wine also appealed to the people there to vote for him and that he would appoint the Speaker of Parliament and Kamuli Woman Member of Parliament to a position in his government. Also while in Koboko, Bobi Wine rallied for Forum for Democratic Change candidates vying for various seats in the area.

However, critics have come out to state that the presidential candidate realized the strength of the candidates he mentioned and chose to ride on that and gain sympathy from their supporters.

NBS TV journalist Joseph Sabiti who also hails from West Nile took to his Twitter account to remind Kyagulanyi that he was preaching to the converted.

“Don’t waste your energies discussing endorsement or no endorsement Dr. Charles Ayume is a sure win in Koboko municipality! One slot in the bag for the NRM party. Sabiti went on to say that by endorsing a candidate in another party, Bobi was abandoning his own party candidates and supporting those in rival camps.

“The two candidates endorsed by Hon Kygaulanyi; James Acidri (IND) and Dr. Ayume are well-grounded and have cut their own political teeth in their areas,” Sabiti added.

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