This Easter govts should feel pain of EA’s masses
Saturday April 08 2023
As Christians come to the peak of the Lent season, it is one of those rare occasions when the calendars of two of the world’s Abrahamic religions overlap. As the Christian faithful celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Muslims are approaching the last fortnight of the 40-day fasting season of Ramadhan.
The common thread in the season of self-denial for both Christians and Muslims is that fasting is supposed to bring adherents closer to the teachings of the holy scriptures through the renunciation of sin. Just like Jesus, contemporary believers are supposed to come out of the season better attuned to virtuous living and more conscious to the needs and pains of the less fortunate.
Muslims are taught that the pain and hunger they experience during Ramadhan should make one more empathetic and predisposed to attenuating the pains and tribulations of the less privileged in the human community. For the adherents of both faiths, therefore, Easter and Ramadhan should be a period of introspection and making the sacrifices that make the lives of others less burdensome.
Public officials’ conduct
Although the search for redemption should be universal, in East Africa, the season is likely to bring the conduct of public officials into focus. A few hours into Holy Thursday, a Ugandan minister was remanded to Luzira Maximum Security Prison over charges of diverting roofing sheets supposed to support a social transformation programme in the impoverished Karamoja region.
The Mabati Scandal, as it has come to be popularly known, is not only the antithesis of religious teachings but perhaps the worst example of how ignoble and dysfunctional African elite and bureaucracy can be. As pleas for roofing sheets by the heads of tree-shade schools in Karamoja went unanswered, government ministers in more privileged regions were able to get enough iron sheets to roof sheds for their livestock.
Profess Christian faith
Invariably, all the beneficiaries from the scam profess the Christian faith, but remain unapologetic. Their conduct is not entirely surprising. Generally, public officials across East Africa have sacrificed morality and duty of care at the altar greed, plain theft and misgovernance in general.
As citizens across the region sink deeper into poverty under a galloping cost of living, public officials are preoccupied with feathering their nests, and continue to gallivant rather than use public resources to alleviate the pain of the masses. To finance their obscenely lavish lifestyles, the ruling class continue to saddle the hardworking masses with ever more taxes. The real price of all this for the masses has been a loss of dignity and social protection.
One hopes that the sermons of the season will jolt the political class to see the reality of their surroundings and wake them to the need to turn a new leaf. Regardless of class or creed, the ongoing religious holidays are meant to bring together people in worship and sharing. The best Easter or Ramadhan gift that governments in the region can give their citizens is a state that works, grows the cake and protects livelihoods.