July 2, 2020
Burundi: The military government is late in committing to fighting the coronavirus: Who will be responsible for the damage already caused?
In his recent speeches, President Evariste Ndayishimiye places great emphasis on the fight against the coronavirus. He invites all the actors to put the whole package into it and even requests aid from partners to win this war. Excerpts from his speech, in front of Burundians and representatives of diplomatic missions still working in the country, circulate on social media showing a man very committed to the fight against this pandemic. I quote: « Those who are in charge of public health, administration, religious denominations, the media, we ask for your support in raising awareness among the population to enforce the measures taken by the Ministry of Health . Let everyone know that coronavirus is a rapidly spreading pandemic that kills when someone neglects to take action. Let us associate our energy to fight this pandemic. Together we can ’’
It’s a very good mobilizing speech. The Covid 19 has wreaked havoc around the world. Statistics show that more than 10.7 million people have been infected, 5.48 million have been treated and cured, and more than 516 thousand have died worldwide. In Africa, statistics from June 29, 2020 show that 207 people died from covid 19. These figures vary from day to day. In Burundi, the figures given by the Ministry of Health show 170 infected people and only 2 dead. Our well-informed sources report that more than 150 people have already died of covid 19.
This is not surprising. It has been three months since this virus was declared in Burundi. The government has not made this pandemic its priority. He simply confined a few people from outside by plane to the Source du Nil’s hotel. There too, the information in our possession says that certain authorities, including ministers returning from their missions abroad (when air traffic was still possible) refused these 14-days confinement just to test if they did not enter the country with the virus. Others gave money to those responsible of this place of containment and were released directly.
Test materials were also not available; everyone who felt some symptoms could not be tested. Busy with preparing for the elections, the government didn’t even want us to talk about it. It is for this reason that WHO representatives in Burundi have been expelled when they are the key elements in this struggle in the world. The health ministry has been ordered not to alert the public to the figures of the infected, let alone dead (the results of few tests they could do were not all published). Hospitals that had the means to do the tests were prevented from doing so, and not to mention the cases of hospitalized people who have visible signs of covid19. It was at this point that Burundians, seeing that the government did not want to do anything to fight this pandemic, began to seek treatment, at the slightest sign of covid 19, with natural medicines.
The government has not only hidden the real figures of contamination and deaths, it has not even mobilized the Burundians to take barrier measures to protect themselves. A certain parliamentarian (we don’t want to mention his name) said without any fear that « wearing a mask in the capital Bujumbura would scare the population ». The Minister himself had stated that only doctors in charge of testing and caring for people with covid 19 were allowed to wear the mask.
The government officially banned people from protecting themselves when the danger was real. Rather, it has encouraged or even forced people to become infected. How? His priority was the preparation and the holding of the elections of May 2020. He had put in place all the means and all the strategies to win them (strategy of cheating); he did not want to miss this opportunity. Otherwise, elections are no more important than the health of an entire people. For Evariste Ndayishimiye and his military clique, that people die after occupying the presidential chair is not a problem. This is how people got infected during the election campaign; they met in cabarets after the rallies. No masks, even less social distancing; our peasants shared imikenke (straws) around jugs of banana or sorghum beer. The situation was the same everywhere in the country: they met in churches, festivals, nightclubs, cabarets, markets and shops and other public places. This means that almost the whole country is contaminated.
When Evariste Ndayishimiye wakes up today to mobilize the Burundian population to fight against covid19, we wonder if it is not too late even if we say that it is never late to do well. As announced in our edition number 44, a lot of resources must be mobilized to do the maximum number of tests to eradicate this disease. Are they available to Evariste Ndayishimiye? Despite the appeal, we do not yet see any accompanying measures already taken, such as banning cabarets, mass prayers, closing nightclubs and others. Will he do it in the coming days? Or are they just words without deeds? Whether it does so today or later, the virus is still eating away at the people of Burundi, there is a great risk that thousands of people will die as one has seen in other countries. All the responsibility is on Evariste Ndayishimiye and his clique.
URNHITAMWONEZA is once again urging all Burundians to take barrier measures to protect those who have not yet been infected. It’s already a good thing that the president launched the appeal; therefore did not expect accompanying measures because it is not certain that they will be taken in an emergency. We encourage certain ecclesiastical authorities and other officials who have already taken certain barrier measures on their own, although they are still insufficient. We remind President Ndayishimiye and the military clique that rule the country with an iron fist that they are responsible for all these covid19 deaths in Burundi. Failure to act when the health of an entire people is in danger for personal interests or a group of people (elections for office) is a crime against humanity. All the covid 19 dead in Burundi rest on their shoulders. Let them know that sooner or later, they will have to answer for their actions in front competent courts.