Page last updated at 14:56 GMT, Friday, 25 July 2008 15:56 UK

Ugandan urges weekday burial ban

Former Ugandan Vice-President Specioza Kazibwe
Speciosa Kazibwe suggested using fridges to preserve corpses

A Ugandan official has suggested to MPs that funerals should be limited to Saturday afternoons to stop people taking time off work to attend them.

Speciosa Kazibwe, a former vice-president who now heads a state development agency, noted that Uganda's death rate was very high.

Uganda has been hard hit buy HIV/Aids, which caused 91,000 deaths in 2005.

Ms Kazibwe said each constituency should have a mortuary with a fridge that could preserve corpses.

She made the comments in a meeting with MPs on economic development.

"I get surprised whenever I hear of a politician who abandons office and attends a funeral," the New Vision newspaper quoted her as saying.

Burials were taking up lots of time as well as productive vehicles, she said.


One MP who heard the proposal, John Emile Otekat, told the BBC that he backed it.

Ms Kazibwe's plan would "save a lot of time wasted and it would also make families really prepare for burial, instead of just burying a person just like that."

"Most of us spend [more of] our time doing burials than any other thing, especially because of HIV/Aids and malaria which is very prevalent in Uganda."

He said this was a particular problem for politicians.

"Most of the members of parliament, even district councillors, they spend a lot of their time in burials instead of doing their work because as a politician you must be seen to be with your people during times of difficulty."

People were buried more quickly in Uganda than in neighbouring Kenya, he said.

Even so, he said the government would have to make sure there were more mortuaries before such an idea could ever be implemented.

He also noted there could be a conflict with the Muslim custom of burying people within a day of their death.

Your comments:

The idea sounds good if more time is to be saved for the sake of work. However, given the strong cultural rituals attached to death and burial of a relative, it is practically impossible to keep the body. I know, for example, from the traditions of Buganda that it is unacceptable in society to go to work when someone has passed away in the same village until the body is buried. It is a strong belief that has existed for ages. So to change the status-quo requires a lot of effort. Remember that traditional practices are not easily eroded in society!
George, Masaka

To me the former VP's comments are nonsense and they should not be delivered by someone of her calibre!! If she's not used to joining others in attending funeral it's OK but then she should not force others to be as she is. On the other hand, in religious reasons, some sects like Muslims ask for immediate burial to their deceased, doesn't she know this? We Ugandans need constructive ideas and not such rubbish like this.
Senior, Jinja

It is strange how an idea, which has been in use for years in neighbouring Kenya, could take Ugandan politicians this long to realise its positive effects on the economy and development of the country. Since the goverment has built health centres at every sub-county, what is difficult in just adding one more small building furnished for a mortuary?
Hinamundi, Kampala

It is adsurd for a leader to propose such a scheme. This in part shows how our leaders are detached from the feelings of people they are supposed to lead. Imagine the difficulty of keeping the body from Monday to the weekend. Let them instead improve the health service, and road network where by people can attend the burial and be back to work.
Hillary, Kampala

This is right on...but we have just one little problem, all weddings are scheduled for Saturday and every Kampalan has at least two weddings to attend every Saturday, so shall we attend weddings or burials?
Stella, Kampala

This Ugandan official has lost trace of the African culture. Ugandans like all African people, have religion circulating in their veins. This woman has no moral authority to de-culturate Ugandans from the cultural values they attach to their dead.
Rutembesa, Kampala

The dead should be buried immediately and forgotten about. Kazibwe should know that Uganda is multicultural society besides most Ugandans are below the poverty line. The more you delay a burial, the more you incur costs. Besides the bereaved family and relatives and friends cannot concentrate on other developmental activities before sorting out the problem at hand. We have a lot of better issues to address than talking about burial.
Kara, Kampala

With the growing inflation rate in Uganda today, I don't think this is the right proposal. Most Ugandans are poor and cannot afford to keep dead bodies more than one day in hospital mortuaries because of the higher costs involved. The facilities in the Ugandan hospitals are very poor and may not be able to take care of the corpses.
Adieku, Kumi

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