By Henry K. Otafiire
In the wake of Corona virus Pandemic, Fat cats and modern day artful dodgers are having a field day not letting this crisis go to waste.
As might be expected, the Corona virus crisis was going to get exploited anyway by those who already have most of the power and money and those who don’t have money but have the ideas to make a killing in these troubling times.
You might have seen a video or photos of stranded passengers, who are believed to have been hauled in a hotel lobby of Central inn in Entebbe after they were told self quarantine forcefully at the cost of staggering 100 dollars per night for two weeks.
It felt personal for me when I saw among the group, was Dr Jimmyspire Ssentongo- a reknown columnist with piercing commentary, a talented satirist and above all, my mentor and lecturer who imparted some good lessons in my head at the University, who happened to have been trapped at the airport on his return from Cambridge University where he had spent good months perhaps on sabbatical leave.
You might as well landed on a video of rant popping out of your gallery by our Minister of Health Dr Aceng who was seen shouting at a frustrated foreigner. Already New Vision carried a screaming headline of how the quarantine hotel has been hit by bribery scandal where by rich are immediately declared corona negative after patting with some good dollars.
No doubt, Dr Aceng so far is a heroine of the crisis with her impeccable leadership. And you imagine how much we would have accomplished, if President Museveni’s administration was composed entirely of galaxy brains like hers, not these nochalant nincompoops whose names are unprintable here, have a record of profiteering from disasters of such nature.
Or you might have seen a couple being bundled on police van on TV after they were caught selling some good containers of concocted hand sanitiser that sell like a hot cake these days in his house in the shanty neighborhood of Katwe.
You might have heard about a person who was caught by Police hawking Corona virus cure in the far flung district of Eastern Uganda.
Or you might have seen an American Professor who has become an internet sensation with his trademark white beard presenting a precious squirt of magical sanitizer that kills the entire family of pathogens and it’s offsprings in record time to the President.
In company of Speaker of Parliament and another shrewd broker turned chemist in the names of Magooro, they were seen in full glare of cameras side stepping all known scientific processes of launching a drug which is usually a preserve of medical practitioners.
The professor’s scheme to hoodwink and seek the endorsement of the President and the Speaker of Parliament was riddled with sinister motives right away from the start. Why would he recklessly peddle a “magical” cure in a country that has not registered a single COVID case and overlook his country America where the pathogen has put them on total lock down?
On reflection, these stories depict the man eat society we have come to accept and embrace as a people. It’s a reminder, too, that even in the thick of a crisis of this magnitude, there will always be self seeking few with an eye on the main chance, who in the words of the investor Warren Buffett are prepared to “be greedy when others are fearful”.
At a moment when it feels like the very terms of our lives are being reconfigured and renegotiated by each passing day, we should exercise vigilance and not be taken advantage of those who in the midst of unprecedented crumbling of our social and economic order, see a heaven sent opportunity to mint money by fleecing us.
Already there are the rumblings that the imminent financial turmoil faced by many businesses may force them into insolvency.
Our highly connected middle class at a time when they are likely to choke on huge loans might find this, their moment to request bail outs.
In the recent locust invasion, we saw it first hand, the work of government bureaucrats who in the wake of invasion threatened to empty already minuscule national coffers by deploying their machiavellian chicanery to arm twist Ministry of Finance to release king-size budget to fight insects which in their estimate was likely to devaste farmlands which we depend on for survival.
Consider this, too: for the next few weeks, perhaps even months, the power brokers in this town– bureaucrats and politicians, marketeers and speculators, agents and street smart – will be at a loose end.
Nothing to do but plot and strategize behind corridors, kicking around and mooting ideas to reap a windfall once they spot their moment to strike. You had to marvel and wonder at the sense of indifference at play here.