“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.
The Over The Top Services Tax and Social Media Tax can only be said as utter embarrassment by the National Resistance Movement (NRM). There are enough things to know this would happen, as the plan was for getting the revenue, but not thinking the consequences of the taxes. That is why, today’s revelations about the levied taxes isn’t that surprising.
Without due-diligence, it is hard to know the effects and the means for why it is put. It seems like the President and the NRM had a dream of cash-flowing into the Consolidation Fund without any consequences, but apparently it does. And when you add taxes on things, people either use less or plan more effortlessly to circumvent this added cost on their daily lives.
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).
While it is a few days ago, that the MTN Uganda promised the 24 hours since paying tax, that the tax would last from the time of payment of the tax until the time is spent. Instead of how it has been, until the new day coming. Meaning, that often you would only get half-a-day with the Social Media, as the taxation would start again, when the clock turns 00:01.
That is why this was news to: “Airtel Uganda and other telecom service providers have announced a fundamental change in the Over the Top excise duty imposed on social media following a directive from Uganda Communications Commission, the telecommunications regulatory body in Uganda. Since its introduction in July 2018, the tax commonly known as OTT or social media tax, was only valid up to midnight of the payment date for daily users. With the recent changes, daily subscribers can now enjoy internet services for a complete 24 hours – right up to the time that they subscribed 24 hours earlier. This also applies to the weekly and monthly users who can also enjoy services until the time that they subscribed” Brian Emorut – ‘Social Media tax validity to now last 24 hours’ 06.11.2018 – Guide 2 Uganda).
So now, Airtel and MTN has changed their pattern of getting the OTT tax. While URA is struggling to met the supposed the quota. This shows that the state had not considered all implications to the levied taxes. The NRM clearly didn’t envision, either the use of VPN and also that people cannot afford it. Because it is barrier to be even using the social media after the taxes.
Surely, the 24 hours usage and the lack of collection. That the Telecoms and the Mobile Money outlets has been pushed and lost revenue is certain. As the data-bundles and Air-Time had to be corrected from July on and also now the barrier for OTTs are changing again. This is surely showing that the Telecoms and the Republic wasn’t prepared for this, but doing it on orders from the President. Peace.