There is a video clip of a session of the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda that is doing rounds on social media. The clip shows members of parliament (MPs) scrambling for a microphone, in order that they may get a chance to query COVID-19 relief food procured and is being distributed by the COVID-19 National Task Force, particularly so the beans.
In that clip the MPs ask:
“What kind of beans is this? When the task force goes to procure this kind of food, what is the name of this kind of beans it is procuring? We want to understand, is it kanyebwa or nambale? What kind of beans is this one?”Uganda Members of Parliament
Indeed, on the Parliament website it is reported that:
“Three MPs, to prove their point, presented on the Floor of Parliament, samples of inferior beans they claimed had been distributed in their constituencies. Hon. Ssemujju Nganda (FDC, Kira Municipality) while displaying a sample of beans distributed in his constituency, implored government to urgently ascertain whether beans being distributed are those from its qualified suppliers.“ This food was distributed yesterday in Kireka. What is happening is that you will go to one home you find good beans, but then in the next home you will find that the beans are spoilt” said Ssemujju.”Parliament of Uganda
From the video clip, aside from the manner in which the MPs wore masks – below their chins or hanging from the one ear; or did not wear masks; while at the same time standing in very close proximity with each other, I was totally mesmerised at how so out-of-touch MPs are with the realities of us their constituents.
The reality in Uganda is that with beans and even other cereals like rice, it is the norm for middlemen and retailers to make a profit through dishonesty. The dishonesty includes deliberately and knowingly selling cereals with impurities, such as stones; and of course with rotten seeds.
We, buyers in Uganda, are aware that a kilogram of beans on the Uganda farmers’ markets is really not of pure beans; it is of beans and impurities. I dare say, the impurities could weigh as much as a quarter of the kilogram of beans sold at farmers’ markets is impurities.
It is plausibly, therefore, that the beans that the task force is buying to give out to those made food insecure by the COVID-19 pandemic are actually to the prevailing standards. And before COVID-19 all MPs were seemingly okay with substandard beans being sold on the market.
And moreover, the poor quality beans on the market seemingly had the blessing of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), which sadly, like Parliament and other Government institutions as well, is incompetent and out of touch.