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REAPING “BUMPER HARVESTS” DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: INTERROGATING THE DYNAMICS OF CORRUPTION DURING THE PROCUREMENT OF RELIEF AND HEALTHCARE ITEMS IN UGANDA, PP. 49-79

The discovery of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV2 or COVID-19) in Wuhan, China was considered a Chinese problem by Ugandans until confirmation of the first positive test in the country, in March 2020. The government went into panic mode by closing the country’s borders, tracking down all contacts, testing them and treating them, imposing a nationwide lockdown and a curfew, prohibiting public gatherings more than five people and suspension of all economic activities except the most essential.

It was the first lock down in a country where much of the urbanised population live “hand to mouth”. Due to resurgence of COVID-19 infections, a second lockdown was announced in June 2021. In both cases, the government organised relief support and healthcare for the most impacted or vulnerable communities / individuals. To counter the effects and challenges paused by the pandemic, the government acquired loans and grants to the tune of billions of United States Dollars. The government also used funds and relief items that were internally generated or provided by citizens, private corporations, and well-wishers. The utilisation of the above funds and donations was characterised by mistakes and missteps, apart from glaring gross irregularities, poor planning, and dubious contract executions. Some of the relief items procured belated provided, were substandard, expired, or unfit for human consumption despite the (inflated) prices. The healthcare items were not delivered on time and to date, some deliveries are still outstanding.

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