A pump attendant at a fuel station near my residence in Bukasa, Bweyogerere climbs the board where prices are displayed to adjust them as consumers wait to fuel their motorcycles and other vehicles.
I confront a similar situation as I request to buy some dollars at a commercial bank in Kololo. The teller first makes a call to the head office to find out whether the exchange rate had changed that morning.
Then I read in the newspapers that transport fares had shot up. The commercial bank where my salary is deposited recently sent me a message on my phone: “Dear customer, due to new tax amendments from July 1st, Excise duty on bank charges will change from 10% to 15% and Stamp duty will increase from Shs 10,000 to 15,000. Thank you for banking with us.”
But while all these things are happening, NRM MPs, one by one, drive to an office in Kololo, run by their secretary general Justine Kasule Lumumba, to receive bundles of new notes of Uganda shillings stuffed in polythene bags.
Each MP is given Shs 2 million as his/her allowance and Shs 100,000 per village in his constituency to campaign for party members during the Local Council elections.
The MPs then rush to their constituencies to bribe poor and desperate voters. Money was also distributed to influence women village councils’ elections. Then the NRM chief will declare victory at the end of the exercise.
Therefore, before you walk into a court of law to file a case against the newly introduced social media tax, you must understand the source of the problem. In fact, the tax can even be scrapped but it will be enveloped in another thing.
People are crying over another layer of tax imposed on mobile money services but what about an additional Shs 100 per litre of fuel. In fact the mobile money tax can be avoided but the one on fuel can not. Who in Uganda does not move in a vehicle or on a motorcycle these days?
I think now tax on each litre of fuel has reached about Shs 1,600. Social media tax should be used as a precursor for a bigger debate of Uganda’s terminally sick economy.
For a while, the taxes on mobile money and social media have made us forget that the former inspector general of police, Edward Kalekezi Kayihura, is still under detention at Makindye military barracks.
I now think he is being made to serve his sentence before he is even charged in court. There was a time Kayihura made us join Dr Kizza Besigye by turning our houses into jails.
And Uganda being what it is, the media filmed policemen at our gates and all over our houses for the first three days and moved on with other issues. The world nearly forgot that our rights and those of our family members were still curtailed by the good NRM cadre. He now faces a similar situation.
Maybe he now knows or will subsequently know that a bad regime is bad for everybody including those who are blindly loyal to it. That is the point Hajji Hussein Kyanjo made when Cerinah Nebanda, the former youthful MP for Butaleja, died under mysterious circumstances.
During debate in parliament to pay tribute to Nebanda, Kyanjo said bad regimes start by curtailing freedoms, including freedom “to even talk.” They then carry out arrests, then torture and finally kill.
He said even those that support such regimes are also arrested, tortured and eventually killed. He outlined about seven methods/ stages they go through before collapsing.
That is why our focus should not be on the tax on mobile money and social media alone but on fixing the entire economy. This man, and I told him when he featured on our weekly Saturday Capital Gang talk show, forgot all about Uganda and thinks about himself.
I have said, and pardon me if I repeat myself, that resolving or digging ourselves from the pit in which this Ntare School old boy has thrown us into will take us a good number of years.
And then the media is blaming LC-1 chairman contestants for riding in big cars/convoys as they hit the campaign trail. The man has killed our country and the earlier we recovered it from him the better, even for himself.
Distribution of money has become his main activity. He distributes in private and in public. Didn’t you see him in Rukungiri? I will always be grateful to those Bakiga who “ate” the money but voted against the regime.
That is what all of us must do. If we don’t, he will have to tax everything to raise money for renting support, especially through elections, which have become the country’s main activity now.
Those who will go to court over a new tax, please get ready.
The author is Kira Municipality MP and opposition chief whip in parliament.