Last year in 2019, there was reports of a new Social Media Task Force for the National Resistance Movement (NRM), which had up to that point hired 49 people. The NRM already had their Social Media Activists (SOMA). So, they had two units work in co-ordination with each other. This is all attempts to steer the narrative and control the air-waves. Not new in that regard, but using modern methods to hit the public with information.
Just like all the other entities, which are government friendly press like the New Vision Group. The UBC, Government Citizen Interaction Centre (GCIC) and Uganda Media Centre to name a few.
In these COVID-19 lockdown times. The NRM together with the leader of the pack of the NRM Social Media Task Force, Duncan Abigaba have shown that they are feeding 245 bloggers. This is done through the kindness of Muhoozi Kainerubaga or the friends of him. They call them “Yellow influencers or bloggers” because that paint the picture. Even the blogger of Ashburg Katto is in the mix, so it seems its not far from the prison-cell to eating of the hand of the system.
These people will be instrumental to get the right vision ahead of the General Election of 2021. This is why they are even now doing deliveries and feeding them food. They are getting serviced by the state for a purpose. Because, these influencers can sway public opinion on social media and various of platforms. That is why Promoter Baalam and the Social Media Task Force of Abigaba is involved in this.
This is ensuring loyalty, as the payment of some rice and other foods during the pandemic. Will remind these Yellow Influencers whose their friends. They got to eat in the midst of it all, because hey are useful right now and in the future. Their platforms on the various of social media will be vital.
Its like 120 personalities on Social Media and about 120 bloggers, which is getting this treatment. This means these people are included and selected out, because of their writing and their content. This is because Duncan handpicked them and know what their up too.
That is what is striking is the amount of effort and to show their names on social media. These is our folks and comrades. Just go into Duncan Abigaba page on Facebook and the whole list will appear. It expose the ninjas writing and working directly for the NRM.
The Yellow Influencers if you may. The friends of Muhoozi is allowed to give these foods without any reinforcement of police nor any meetings with authorities. Because, they are working in-directly for the efforts for the state. This is partisan politics at its best. That information is being dropped on the day the UPF disclaim everything about Zaake whose healing after torture. That is the sort of state the Republic is in.
Where Yellow Influencers can get a food-drive by the Son-of-the-President. But opposition doing the same to his constituents are healing in the hospital after meeting the authorities. That is the double standard and the realities on the ground.
That Baalam and Abigaba is above Zaake is now clear as day. That the Yellow Influencers are important is clear too. They will be a tool into the elections and the campaigns, spreading the message of the “Yellow Bastard”. Peace.
Since early 2017, Dr. Stella Nyanzi have gotten into legal trouble because of her public statements. She was charged on the 23rd March 2017 for offensive communication, as she deemed the President as a “Pair of Buttocks” in a Facebook post. Ever since then she has gone in and out of prison. However, the longest stint was 18 months in Luzira Woman’s Prison. Today, the International Criminal Division have ordered to overturn her conviction and sentence from lower courts. The state also lost the appeal on the grounds of offensive communication.
Therefore, today on the 20th February 2020, she has finally been released after struggling on the docket, before taken back to Luzira briefly to sign-out and then released. This has been a to long journey over some “buttocks”.
That the timeline between 23rd March 2017 to 20th February 2020, she has been taken in- and out of prison. She has been carrying the weight and been resilient in her quest for freedom. Since the charge in March 2017, the amount of days carrying this has been the total of 1064 days, or 2 years and 10 months and 28 days. That’s a long time for one Facebook post.
Dr. Nyanzi has gone through a lot, she lost an unborn baby because of it too. There must been an overload of pain and suffering, which we cannot understand. Still, with all that pressure, all the negativity and the destructive pattern of the state towards her. She has stand strong and been able to push through. That is admirable and should be recognized.
Stella Nyanzi has carried a lot of pain, a lot of suffering and continued. That is what we all should admire about her. That she has stood up to injustice, unfair rulings and court judgments, which were biased in favour of the President and explicitly constraining the ability of people to express themselves online.
Nyanzi isn’t perfect, she isn’t aiming for it either, but what she does has a point. That the President is a pair of buttocks. That he acts like that and talks like that. This is why he could address himself as the Leopards Anus, but she couldn’t call him buttocks. Which is double standard and hypocrisy at its best.
She has paid for this. Stella has been through a journey, which many wouldn’t wish on anyone. Still, she’s there and able to fight for her causes. Justifiably so. No one can deny Stella that. The ones that does is ignorant of the message and the courage of standing up to the military might and powers to be with only a computer and a free mind. That is what she has done.
So the verdict on the President. His not a saint, neither is he grand, when he let one of his subjects be in prison for over 18 months and charged falsely with offensive communication for over 1064 days. He is a “pair of buttocks”, Mr. President you just have to live with it. Peace.
“Levy on mobile money contributed a deficit of UGX 30.48 billion which can be explained by the fact that high value clients withdraw their funds from agency banking e.g MTN has had a drop of 36 percent in MM transaction values since the introduction of the levy on mobile money” (Uganda Revenue Authority, 06.02.2020).
There is also reported that it has been a 36% drop in Mobile Money Transactions since the enaction of the Exercise Duty in 2018. That means, the added tax on the MM transactions are backfiring. The State isn’t adding revenue, but ensuring that people are finding other ways of moving their money.
This is not shocking, that people change behaviour, when the state makes it more expensive. As the people used these services to send each other money by convenience. Now, one third of the transactions are gone. Meaning, the ones that can change their ways has done that.
The losers are not only the Telecoms, but also the state. As the shortfall of taxes got to be covered elsewhere. As the state had put this into the budgets to cover other state works. This means the targets for domestic revenue wasn’t considering the implications of doing it. As, there wouldn’t be an natural reaction to the consequences to the new taxes.
Instead of increasing the tax base, they are making it smaller and not able to find measures that makes sense. The state has clearly done this without due diligence, neither also configured the stats and the possible behaviour of the public. As their ways gotten more taxed and not considering that they would stop, if they found it to expensive or unreasonable.
The MM tax and the OTT taxes was measures made to tax the digital market-space in the Republic. However, they have both been flawed and also not met their targets, because the public found other ways of doing things.
The ironies about the MM saga is that before the tax, the business of MM was growing. A natural growth and having more transactions every year. Now, that they levied the tax its has a big fall. That is a result of the MM Tax and the public is not having it. Peace.
“URA Commissioner General Doris Akol told the Finance Committee of Parliament chaired by Henry Musasizi that the controversial OTT Tax will be charged directly on data instead of mobile money to curb the evasion” (NBS Television, 14.01.2020).
I wonder if Doris Akol has thought this through or is winging it? As she see the losses and lack of results, revenue or tax base with the 200 shillings of doom. The whole OTT Tax is to expensive for the public daily. Now, she wants to move it and indirectly tax it instead.
Surely, they will get revenue, but this will make it more expensive to buy data-bundles for the customers and make the packages more viable. VPN and similar networks to circumvent the usage and payments of the daily OTT Tax have beaten the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). That is why URA does this now.
It is a sign of defiance and civil disobedience. They are trying to patch the hurt. But will this succeed? Will more try to only load data through Wi-Fi networks and wireless networks in general. Not load so much data on the go. Because, people are smart and tries to undercut extra taxes. Especially, when on the data is already paid VAT and the Mobile Company pay their taxes on the profits too.
Therefore, URA and Akol seems fishing. They will raise revenue, but also make the data bundles more expensive and with that stop plenty of people from buying bigger data bundles for surfing online on your smart-phone.
That is just the mere reality. It is a sign, yet again that the OTT is a failed project, who didn’t hit the targets and wasn’t measured right. If it was, the aim and the bargain wouldn’t be like this. That is not happening.
This method is a clever way of adding the costs of data, while charging for service not necessarily used. The OTT Services, which is the reason for why these are charged. Because, the data could be used for other things and therefore, is violating its attempt to make it costly for certain usage on online.
This is again, pushing one story, pushing one tax and trying to tax the public by any means. When the hook doesn’t work, they use the crook. Instead of doing directly, they want to do it indirectly and initially in some way adding a separate VAT on data-bundles masked as OTT Tax. That is really it.
We all know this, URA verify it today. That the only things certain in life is death and taxes. Thanks Akol for reminding us. Peace.
Today, the Uganda Communication Commission released their annual sector performance report of July 2019. It was really a bit funny look, as the state, the President and all of his handlers said the Over-The-Top Services would create a tax-base and revenue, which would benefit the state. That is why Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) had set up targets to streamline these new taxes.
I will show more of the fun and explain, as the UCC report really shows how malfunction and lack of due diligence hurt. But first a previous calculation, which was stated to the media. To show how much lack of tax-base the OTT had in 2018, as it was implemented in July and keeps pushing to this date.
Daily Monitor Reports: “Government collected Shs20.5b from social media in the last quarter ended September, according to data obtained from Uganda Revenue Authority. The tax, which was implemented in July, was however, less than the Shs24.9b target that URA had hoped to collect in the period. URA has a monthly target of Shs8.3b. The tax was introduced in the Excise Duty amendments of financial year 2018/19 requiring all social media users to pay Shs200 per day, before accessing certain platforms such as Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter, among others. Government intends to collect about Shs100b before the end of the 2018/19 financial year” (Christine Kasemiire – ‘OTT raises Shs20b in first quarter, URA fails on targets’ 07.11.2018).
Let’s first do the math, accordingly, as the URA monthly target is 8,3bn shillings in revenue, every single month. A quarter of a Financial Year is 4 months. In today’s UCC report, it shows the numbers for the Q3 and Q4 of 2018. Which means, that states revenue from July-September and October-December in the previous years. By these standards its 8,3bn X3 to get the supposed of any given Q. That is 24,9bn shillings is estimated to earn per quarter.
However, the UCC report states that in the Q3, the revenue was 12,696,558,400 or 12,6bn shillings which is only about half of the anticipated revenue. The final quarter or Q4 isn’t much better:12,952,833,800 or 12,9bn shillings. Of the estimated earnings, the state is nearly able to gain about half of its target. The market and the consumers are not contributing or using the phones as much as they thought. What is striking if you combine the two quarters of revenue is that the state earned approximately 25,5bn shillings, which is sadly just above one quarter estimate of the URA in supposed revenue on this tax. The estimated earnings of the period would be about 49,8bn and this shows the state managed a deficit of about 24,3bn shillings. That is about on quarters earning not happening at all. Thats a giant shortfall of cash and the URA/UCC needs to explain the Ministry of Finance this one, because this a major loss of promised funding for the state.
This shows how failed this tax is and what a waste of enforcement and making the tax in its first place. This isn’t fun and games, but a way of misusing power to tax people, just because you find something obnoxious. That is how it seems, since the President want to stop the gossip online and such. Stop spreading of information and ensure that poorest cannot afford to get online and use the OTT services. Because, that what this tax does. Peace.
“That’s the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody’s going to be against, and everybody’s going to be for. Nobody knows what it means, because it doesn’t mean anything.” – Noam Chomsky
The National Resistance Movement is steadily preparing for 2021. By every initiated move, they are trying to make it feel relevant and have a message to sell. It is not enough to have the Uganda Media Centre, Uganda Broadcasting Company, New Vision Media House, Government Citizen Interaction Centre or even the Ministry of ICT, whose all trying to peddle the message and image of the NRM.
Still, these are not enough. That is why the NRM have gotten a NRM Social Media Activists (SOMA). If this wasn’t enough, the NRM had already hired about 59 people for a Social Media Task Force run by Duncan Abigaba. Where one part of the team had specialists serving various of social media sites, while the same task force had hired 14 people to run the program on Twitter. This was leaked in August 2018. So, the team has been in play a while, but who knows how operative or even successful it is.
Yesterday, there is a new revelation. Not with a significant new change, but certainly a continuation of the building a digital task force and spin machine for the world wide web. Where they hope to spin enough and overlook enough to get the people to catch their bait. Either by the hook or by the crook. That is just what the NRM does.
The news yesterday, was that the NRM plans to hire a 100 Social Media Activists for all the republics regions, to represent all of them and spread the message. This is certainly a progression to the ones working for Abigaba who was hired last year for his Task Force. These will maybe fall in under his mission and umbrella. To ensure, that the NRM are acting correctly and getting the right image online.
We can clearly see t that Bosco, Mr. Sunday, Yoseri or Yoweri Kaguta Museveni are active online. Even if he has proclaimed there is only rumours and waste of time on Social Media. He himself is there and claimed to be biggest, most followed Ugandan on Twitter. Surely, there is a lot of paid bots on his followers page. Trust me on that one.
However, this is just a sign of the Don Wanyama’s, the Andrew Mwenda’s and whatnot of direct supporters, even Morrison Rwakakamba or whoever else spreading the words of old man with the hat. They will be now repeated a lot more and the self praise will hit levels that not even Soft Power and Sarah Kagingo would manage. That is what the NRM is preparing. They need the loyalists, the ones praising every move the His Excellency is doing. That is just the way it is.
If this is continued of the Task Force of last year, if it is hiring the ones in NRM SOMA. Surely, they will sooner or later, kick and scream because the NRM cannot manage to pay their salaries. They are there for a payday, not because they believe in the vision of the old man. They are not volunteers, but paid activists. Just like the ones paid to demonstrate before too. Staged nightmares waiting to appear. Peace.
We knew that the statements of 2018, as the loyal ICT Minister Frank Tumwebaze hadn’t done his due diligence, as the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoPED) issued a Social Media Tax last year after President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni wrote a letter to the Ministry of Finance asking for the opportunity to tax this.
That has no been done over the last few months, but as the realization of the effects are coming. The forewarning of CSBAG and others wasn’t listen to. I wrote that it lacked due diligence of the tax in June 2018 and today. As I open Daily Monitor and seeing that Frankie Boy has changed his ways. He has opened his eyes and seeing what some of us saw all along. As the cost of content, the cost of using social media and that this has ensured that it is less viable. Since, its the elites who can use it, but the lower level civil servants cannot afford to be online. That was natural, that the 200 shillings per day would be taken directly of the plate and also evaporate funds for investment within the Republic. It is a negative tax, and therefore, naturally have reverse effect, than what the state promised when they levied it.
Tumwebaze statement in July 2018:
“When Ministry of Finance is borrowing, we, the Parliament and civil society are grilling them for borrowing. But when we say this is a sector that has grown in the economy so let’s get a bit of it, let’s get Shs. 6,000 from every holder of a smartphone consuming OTTs, what production capacity will it stifle?” (…) “Is USD 1,4 too much for a citizen to contribute to tax yet you have money to buy a smartphone, minimumly at Shs. 300,000 that is data enabled, and you load bundles of over shs. 30,000? Logically it doesn’t make sense” (Frank Tumwebaze, 17.07.2018).
Tumwebaze statemetn in January 2019:
“The committee chaired by Annet Nyakecho said Over The Top tax seems to negatively affect the consumption of ICT services and products. In response, ICT Minister, Mr Frank Tumwebaze admitted that the tax is has had adverse effects on the sector. He said they were “hoodwinked” by their counterparts in the Finance Ministry that the introduction of the tax on the basis that it would widen the country’s revenue base” (Ssebuliba, 2019).
ICT Minister Tumwebaze was so positive and thinking this was the future. This was how to widen the tax-base, but instead. It has as expected made the usage of Social Media expensive. Which means also there is lack of funds for the ones operating within the Social Media and making Online Businesses. This is both happening because of the hard hitting taxes on Social Media, but also the Mobile Money Tax. Both taxes has both the Mobile Money Industry and the ICT development, as they are both having less activity and less usage. Which is natural, when the costs are going up.
The ICT Minister should have known this before speaking so warm about it. Any tax are taking money out of the system. The 200 shillings of doom is clear. The state could have listen to the advice, but didn’t open the ears to it.
In June 30 2018, Daily Monitor reported this: “Civil society organisations have accused the government of trying to stifle debate online with this tax, while others like the Civil society Budget Advocacy group CSBAG, say the tax will have a negative impact on a business.” (Hinamundi, 2018).
So, if the ICT Minister Tumwebaze could have known and stopped this. They could have done the right thing and not continued this path. Instead they have hurt the industry, because they are all blindly following the orders of the President. That is what the state did and they levied the 200 shillings of doom, as it was anticipated by anyone else. Than, the authorities itself. Peace.
Samuel Ssebuliba – ‘Parliament orders assessment on impact of social media tax’ 18.01.2019, link: https://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Parliament-orders-assessment-impact-social-media-tax/688334-4940312-rph8g3z/index.html
Collins Hinamundi – ‘How government will collect the new social media tax’ 30.07.2018, link: https://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/How-government-will-collect-new-social-media-tax/688334-4639596-juy8n3z/index.html
I wonder if Yoweri Kaguta Museveni ever listens to himself and his own advice. Because his own words so often are compelling to his own activity. Just like yesterday, he continues his rants of wisdom. This is something from the 32 years regime, who continues to pursuit their own game. It is nothing, that seems to stop them in their ways. They are just collecting whatever they can, even when there is no proof of doing any good by doing it. They are pushing taxes on the public, without giving service delivery back. They are just taxing them and making life harder.
President Museveni also spoke on surveillance of the Telecommunication Industry and use of Cellphone. Because he believes that the Companies are not paying their fair share. He is really proving his dictating ways and his micro-managing to the next level. He has the answers for more taxation and the answers to solve the lack of funds for the state reserves. Take a look!
“The third measure is electronic monitoring of telephone calls because the telecoms have been under-declaring their revenues. URA was depending on figures provided by the companies instead of independently monitoring them” (Museveni, 23.11.2018).
“Fourth, we must electronically monitor all money transfers. URA and BoU should do this. We recently started a tax on mobile money and social media. The mobile money tax was good because we had a large portion of people who are in non-monetary GDP.” (Museveni, 23.11.2018).
What is more worrying is that he wants to practically surveillance of the telecom industry. He wants to follow the airtime and cellphones, to check if the Telecommunication Companies are underwriting and lying on the usage of the telephone-services. This is furthering the opportunity of the state to follow and monitor the public, they will have the excuse to do so, by checking if the Airtel, MTN or other companies are telling the truth.
The last piece is that the President says the Mobile Money tax was positive, because it shown the amount of people who living in a non-monetary society. That the Mobile Money Tax are showing to what extent the public are living without bank-accounts and by direct cash services. That is why the Mobile Money has been important all over Uganda, because it has given people ability to pay over another platform, which wasn’t costly, but opening to transfer from instance family members in Kampala to the ones up-country.
Therefore, the Mobile Money tax has made it more costly and more of a bother. This hasn’t made it better, but made life harder. However, the President doesn’t see the good for the people, but the good for his spending in the State House. Which has grown by adding more taxes and not checking the consequences of doing so. Peace.