Opinion: Museveni “owns” the airwaves

The ones who believes the campaigns or the rallies or anything associated with the 2021 General Elections will be free and fair? Who are we kidding here. The National Association of Broadcasters sent a letter to the Uganda Communication Commission on the 20th November 2020 because of the announcement of a National Address every Sunday by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Therefore, announcing that he would have the whole broadcast and all channels with his speeches.

The letter from NAB is fine by itself. However, it will not amount to anything. The ideals behind is fine. Nevertheless, the system is for Museveni and Museveni alone. To think otherwise in 2020 is naive. The UCC and Radio Stations have been cut mid-broadcast because an opposition candidate is speaking. Radios have blocked and not been allowed to air opposition candidates. Secondly, the UCC have sent out Memo’s warning people for having Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine on air. Therefore, this enterprise futile.

NAB means well and the ideal is good. Still, we know it won’t amount to anything. The UCC and the other authorities will digress and configure, mellow the reason and find a short-cut to make sound reasonable. When we all know that this is only to batter his message. No matter if it is profound, sincere or real at all.

Museveni and the National Resistance Movement aren’t even trying to play fair. They are not even faking fairness in campaigns. They are upper blocking, rigging and ensuring the opposition doesn’t have the abilities or the option to campaign like they do. The President can smile and grin. He can be all hospitable. While his law enforcement and soldiers are killing people in the streets. Therefore, the man that doesn’t bat an eye over the deaths.

Do you think he will care about fairness in the media and in publications?

This man will use all tools. No matter what. The man will use force, take the opportunity and have long speeches. He had the COVID-19 speeches. Several of them. Actually, he had around 20 of them. It was a running series. The old man miss it so much. That he has to reinvent it.

The lectures of old. The fear and intimidation, every single Sunday. The old man will be on the screens, on the radios and online. Speaking his ruthless and reckless behaviour. Expecting to be honoured like a Statesman, but acting like mobster. He easily get hostile and grabs the guns. So, don’t expect positive messaging.

The man need to show that he has the guns, the authorities and the total power. Yes, he does “own” the airwaves. However, he doesn’t own people’s mind. This is why we don’t have to listen. Don’t even have to turn it on. Just let it all go. He has said everything before… it is recycling and repetition. The boring lecturer that makes you fall asleep in class. That is the sort of affair and the spectacle his serving. Only his minions will sprinkle some additional spices and call it feast. Even when know its not worthy the price.

The old man would be better just being on the campaign trail and being amongst his own. Instead, of spewing garbage every Sunday. However, the broadcasters has no choice. Because, if they defy the man. He will revoke their license and their doors will be bolted shut. That is the game he plays and he doesn’t care. Peace.

Opinion: Museveni needed to warn the public on his Nomination Day…

I hear chatter about those who intend to cause chaos. I am a Presidential candidate but I’m still President. I can assure you, nobody is going to threaten our peace. Those who will attempt it will regret it. We don’t joke around, NRM fought to bring peace. Nobody has more guns than we do, but we don’t go around intimidating people. I hear they are working with foreigners. No foreigner is going to change anything here in Uganda. To Ugandans, if you have information on such stupid acts, report it to authorities. It is possible some Police officers are corrupt, but you can use other channel” – Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on 2nd November 2020 (Nomination Day for Presidency).

The President has today gotten nominated as a “presidential candidate” for the 2021 elections. Though this was just a automatic event for him and the National Resistance Movement (NRM). We all knew this day would come. It has been scheduled since 1986 and was a “non-starter” for the most of us.

It is not he would be annulled or be rejected from standing as a candidate. The President was confirmed and verified by the Electoral Commission first. The old man with the hat is only going through the motions. As he could have been riding in on a donkey or on a electric kick scooter, as he would pass through the suburbs of Kampala. However, we knew the man would never do that. He needed the Presidential Convoy and all of his guns on display. 

What we do know and what he did was incite fear and intimidation. That is his steady M.O. and what he has done forever. We know that he has the backing of the army and the police force. That CMI, ISO and other outfits works directly for him. This is common knowledge and isn’t new. He even have LDUs ready to aim at the ones standing in his way. Therefore, the cause of fear and stirring the pot. Is so common for this man.

A man that has been in power since 1986. Still has to use these tactics. Shows how far he has come. That he haven’t ensured real peace and true popularity with the people. If he had the popularity and the trust in the people. He wouldn’t swing out with the guns and the need to speak like this. Because, if he was truly popular. He would feel the love and would bash in it. Not use weapons, the army or the authorities to keep people in check.

However, that is what he does and got too. Because, this is the only way he stays ahead of the curve. This man wouldn’t be the President or have power, if it wasn’t for guns. That is why he clings on to it and uses it at any means. The guns and the soldiers are his buddies and the ones saving his day. He wouldn’t have the audacity or the power, if it wasn’t for them.

That’s why he had to say it. He wasn’t even discreet about it. The man just said it: “nobody have more guns than we do”. That is his message. That is his measure and his safety pin. This is what keeps him relaxed and at sleep at night. That he has the guns and the others doesn’t. He got the army, the police and everyone else armed to their teeth’s. As long as it stays like that.

He feels safe and secure. Not worried about anyone, because he can always aim those guns against the ones standing in his way. That is the memo we can get from today. Peace.

The Campaign of Fear 2020 Edition: As Museveni prepares for 2021 Presidential Elections

The National Resistance Movement (NRM and President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is preparing for the 2021 General Elections. As always the President and his regime is using all means to have access and control ahead of the polls. This giving supplementary budgets to the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF).

The red berets ban of the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) is one key component this election cycle. Everything looking alike military attire can cause trouble. This being berets, clothes and even logos. The UPDF will use force and also call in the Police Force to take the goods and charge the ones wearing it. They have even arrested 70 year old lady for wearing red. That is how far they are taking it this election cycle.

One thing they are also doing this year is to re-issuing the Violence Suppression Unit (VSU) at the Uganda Police Force ahead of the Polls. This is a units specifically aimed at the crowds and the gatherings of people, as the state is having “scientific” campaigns. Therefore, the ordinary fashion of campaigning is suspended within this election cycle.

The UPDF have also made use of Local Defence Units (LDUs), which will be used as a tool to incite fear and intimidate the public ahead of the elections. As they are locally trained armed personnel, ready to shoot and kill. If anyone dares to question the authority of the state.

Another newcomer is the joint security and media council, which is issuing guidelines for the Media Houses. One that has barred National Unity Platform (NUP) aspirants across the republic and especially, if they are wearing red berets. The Media Houses have also been warned by the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) to not host NUP aspirants, as memos have been and possibly loose license to broadcast, if they do. That is the initial campaign strategy of the regime to bar the real opposition from the airways.

The continued pressure now ahead of nomination days is that Uganda Police Force is coming with warnings of processions and gatherings around the Presidential Aspirants. As they have put curfews over several parts of Kampala. They have given out warnings of tear-gas, arrests and said boda-boda’s shouldn’t gather. Calling groupings of boda-boda’s militias even. That is how far the authorities are going these days.

We can see how the state is working on overtime. The UPDF have already stated they are a partisan government entity under the NRM. Civil servants are supposed to be automatically loyal too and so fourth. The State is really using all means to keep the system alive and kicking. This is why the army and police force is coming with intimidating force ahead of the campaigns.

Instead of being there serving everyone equally, the NRM are using the state and its arms to beat the public into submission. The armed personnel and police force is there serving the NRM as an entity and not serving the whole state. That is the brutal reality in all of this.

That is why the State House and the President have ensured they have LDUs, VSU and other ones to ensure total control ahead of the polls and during campaigns. The President is allowed to have much people around his nomination day, while the others are banned from having over a certain amount of people following the convoy of the candidate.

Surely, there will be blood, there will be tears and there will be suffering. As the state will address all opposition with a rough hand. There will no mercy and also fierce retributions towards the public. That is the reality of it all.

There will be more and the next 48 hours will be testing. The state have prepared for this. They are inciting fear, using intimidation and using the joint security apparatus to silence people in their way. That is what they do. They cannot act with humility and give people way. No, they got to shoot and then investigate why they shot later. Peace.

The UTL Saga: The state salvages the debt to resurrect the Walking Dead

This Mango has gone through a lot. A former state company sold to Libyan investors and after the Libyan credit started to fail. The Ugandan Telecom Company (UTL) or Mango started to suffer too. The Telecom have been so hard hit that three years ago the state had to take it over.

There been so many twists and turns, where the company have been rumoured and speculations. Even the Minister and owners was speculated to moved to a shell company in Mauritius. Therefore, today’s sudden windfall and paying off debts. Is only bailing out a sinking ship and hoping it still doesn’t sink.

The UGX 45.6 Billions to the TDB (Eastern & Southern Trade & Development Bank). With this payment of this debt. The state is initially taking over UTL. This as they plans to make the UTL attractive to investors again. Mango haven’t been viable for years…

The Libyan Post ditched in March 2017 and since then it has struggled. The Libyans said the Government of Uganda needed to figure out a transformation plan for the UTL. It has clearly taken three years to figure this out. That nobody wanted to takeover the loans of a company, which haven’t invested in Telecommunications in years. Where the changes of mobile data, 3G and 4G networks for smartphones. The UTL haven’t had the funds or the ability to change with the times.

UTL is struggling because the state haven’t been able to save it before now. The regime needed over three years to figure this out. This with the steady leadership of Evelyn Anite, Frank Tumwebaze and Gen. Kahinda Otafiire interfering all at different times. While they have all done their part … it still took the Committee until now to secure payment for the debts. This should have been resolved earlier, if they intended to make it viable business.

In 2017, Anite even wanted all Ugandans for Patriotic reasons should have one UTL line. Maybe, she thinks everyone has a Airtel, MTN and could have UTL sim-cards in their phones. As the usual person should have at least double or dual sim-cards.

This all been a long lasting saga, which shouldn’t take this long. It is a fledging company. A former state corporation privatized and sold for scraps to Libya investors. Who earned on it in the good times, but ditched it when it got hot. Because, it been years since the UTL been viable and been a commodity.

This Mango is rotten. The Mango tree isn’t yielding any fruits anymore. This is a Walking Dead Enterprise. A Telecom who has no traction and is only throwing good money for bad investments. The money could have been burned in a street or thrown down a storm-drain, and it would still have more sense then investing it here.

UTL is being saved, but was it worth saving? Does it have any assets or financial liabilities worth mentioning? The competitors are miles ahead and the UTL needs huge investments to be in the same arena. Do they think another investor will spend money like a drunk uncle in a market, which is already filled with big companies. Who has small margins and higher taxes.

Therefore, the ones doing it … has to be regime “friendly” and willing to throw away good money for a bad investment. Peace.

OTT Madness Part II: A Crackdown on Online Publications…

Yesterday, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) issued a statement that they would need to obtain persons who are operating online and publishing content online. That is not only blogs, but video and media in general. This is if you are on social media or just a blogger. Everyone in the Republic must be authorized and registered as such to be regulated by the UCC.

This is happening in the short span of the Over-The-Top Taxes, the Social Media Tax, the 200 shillings of doom. The state continues their crackdown and wanting to monitor and control the publications, the content online. This is a deliberate effort to know about who is behind the online media and who is posting online content.

That is happening, while the state combined with their institutions are gearing up for a “Scientific” election in 2021. As the campaigns, the electorate and the political operatives must use either online outlets or print media. If not broadcasting either on-air og on television.

So, it’s not shocking that the UCC does this. Just like it did the Sim-Registration drive as well. They are suddenly acting swift in the name of the authorities to ensure they can have access and control of a certain part of the public space.

It is just interesting that they need this now. Just as the Electoral Commission and everyone else is gearing up for the various of flag-bearers and candidates. That they need to access these places, knowing about the news publications on Facebook, the ones dropping teasers on Instagram and the verified accounts on Twitter. Because, that is suddenly important now. So, they can deem your ass fit or not.

They will likely try to crash down on the media houses, the outlets and the publications who are deliberately spreading bad news for the regime. The ones who like TVO style and hurt the pride of Muhoozi and Bosco. That is just life, I suppose and how narrow minded the regime is at this point.

The OTT Tax and Social Media Tax is just a proof of how far the state will go. That is already limiting the space online and the amount of content. With this, the people will be even more limited and the ones who has their own platforms and uses it. Has to register and maybe will be revoked. Even if they have paid a third-party, have agreements and payment-plans for their operations. Still, the UCC can and will stop you from doing so.

The state has pushed for digital and online campaigns, but these sorts of actions speaks another tone. Seemingly, the only one allowed in the end is the “NRM Friendly Press” and “Associates of the Online Brigade”. The NRM SOMA and outreaches of Uganda Media Centre are allowed to operate, the ones like Ashburg and other content creators. While the rest are blocked or lost their privileges by the state. I don’t believe the UCC does this to be kind and keep a registry for “fun”. No, this is not that sort of business and the UCC isn’t a friendly uncle, but a tool for limiting the freedom of expression.

The ones who differs, be your guest, but don’t be shocked if someone loses their livelihoods and their platform. Because, they are voices of dissidents and the opposition. The ones who dares to speak against the President and his Party. They are all under fire by this. The NRM operatives will move along and get even more space. However, the others will be in trouble…

This is a crackdown; we just don’t know to what extent. The UCC will claim and say otherwise, but we all know the drill. Peace.

 

Digital Campaigning: Expect opposition candidates to be blocked from the air-waves during the campaigns…

The Electoral Commission released the Road Map for the General Elections of 2021 today. This is so everyone involved, every stakeholder and party can adjust their programs. They can work towards the deadlines, deliver their nominated candidates and prepare for impact. We can all assume this is done for some transparency. However, there been no legislation nor any changes of substance since the 2016 General Elections. So expect another rigged race and outcome, which is already pre-fixed by the buddies within the EC.

To think otherwise in 2020 is naive and deluded. The National Resistance Movement (NRM) will own the Parliament, will hold the stranglehold on the Presidency and will only give breadcrumbs to the Opposition. That is what it does to show sympathy and also prove to donors that it has some sort of democracy. Even when all know it isn’t real and there are no level playing-field.

The Road Map today was striking and COVID-19 based, as the EC is preparing for digitally campaigning for all the parties involved. The Electoral Commission stated today this: “Mass rallies will not be allowed but campaigns will be conducted mainly through media” (EC, 16.06.2020).

With this in mind, the candidates on various of levels has a short span of time to hit the airwaves, online outlets and on the TV screens. This is coming as the state has enforced the OTT Tax and made it expensive to be on social media. The state also known for blocking opposition leaders to on the local radios. If they are sincere in this election. They will open up the radios, let the opposition candidates have conversations and appeal to the public through there. As the rural areas isn’t fully operative with internet to every village and home. There are not even electricity to every home. That is why this strategy will backfire and someone will not get the whole gist from all candidates.

We can also expect that the President and the NRM blocks the airwaves for the times of the speeches of the President. Especially in the time frame of the digitally campaigns. That is just inevitable. He will block Besigye and Bobi Wine from speaking out at the same time. He will not accept that. That is hurting his fragile ego.

There are just something we can anticipate. There will be self-made sessions on Facebook and Live Taping, which is not needed with any media house. However, if the people want to reach far and wide. Than they need to hit the airwaves, needs to be on the TV stations and be able to speak across the platforms. We have seen in the past that the Uganda Communication Commission has sanctioned Radios, TV stations for having Bobi Wine on. They have also blocked Besigye, even RDCs has blocked Besigye for appearing on Radio shows. So, we anticipate a hurdle and destructive patterns here.

The system and control from high above will be visible here. I don’t expect it to really change. However, they should if they want it to look good. I expect arrests, house-arrests and other things. Just as the opposition are trying to travel to radio stations and such. That is just the sad reality Also expect police to block stations and stop from transmitting. This is just something that will appear. Later the UCC and RDC will have an excuse and do it for “safety”. Even if the Opposition is supposed to be allowed on the airwaves. While the NRM candidates and Flag-Bearers can do whatever they feel.

This is just my imagination, but I don’t think its far fetched from the possibly reality in a few months time. Unless, they suddenly opens for rallies and then venues will be closed. Where the Opposition will be chased by the authorities and sometimes end behind bars. Peace.

Opinion: Not shocked that Tamale Mirundi is under fire again

Tamale Mirundi, the motor-mouth, former Presidential Press Secretary and now former long time host or contributor on NBS Television. He has been on NBS Television for years now. Since around the time he was sacked from the State House. Even if he has all along claimed wealth, following, taxis, book deals and whatnot. Still kept his day-job and shown loyalty towards the National Resistance Movement (NRM).

Now on the day the Electoral Commission is unleashing its roadmap for the election in 2021. That day the news of the suspension of Mirundi comes. It is just so fitting, that the NBS is doing it now. He could be talking and commenting on everything happening ahead of the elections. It would be pure fire and he would always defend the President.

Mirundi has been rough, he get the quotes and the ratings. That is why his somewhat popular voice on NBS. However, everyone knows his a voice of the government. Though his voice is obnoxious and sometimes outrageous. They still let him go off, because its good TV. I cannot blame NBS. He made entertaining views and perspectives. Him triggering himself and speaking like a AK47 makes people look a bit longer and actually follow a political programme.

Who else could carry a yellow beret and a hammer on TV and get away with it. Only Mirundi could walk around and promote the NRM without any fuzz or hesitation. So Tamale has done his job and with full vigour for years. They fired him for causing havoc in the State House, but still saw his value. That is why he was eligible and able to stay relevant on the screen for so long.

He could get away with gun-running at a radio station, being vocal against certain members of the State House and still be a commentator at one of the biggest TV channels of the nation. This was all happening because he was one of them. Though he has acted a fool and went wild, but haven’t to pay anything for doing so.

The Uganda Communication Commission has switched off his broadcast on a radio station before. So him being suspended from participating at NBS TV isn’t new for him, but following a pattern and historical precedence in concern to this man. It’s all Mirundi folks.

Tamale Mirundi has this gift. When you have such passion, such wordings and speaking at high volume. At some point you trigger someone off. Mirundi should know this, but clearly he doesn’t care. His rants are epic, even if I don’t agree with anything of what’s his saying. Mirundi is the gaslighter-in-chief for the regime.

That is why its weird his suspended from the NBS TV. Just like Mira Matembe became too a while ago. She was for the reason of being a strong and independent sole, who has no issues or quarrels hammering at the government. However, that is not the case with Mirundi.

Mirundi might be a lot to handle, be vocal spirit and speaking without a filter, but he was always on point for the government. Its not like he was challenging the State House, the High Above or anyone in reality. He just continued to speak and let bygones be bygones. That is who he is and what he has become.

Am I shocked about this? No, was this inevitable? Yes. Peace.

Mobile Money Tax shortfall: People change behaviour after levying an unfair tax

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.

Opinion: OTT Tax on Data Bundles is like a dual-VAT

“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.

Uganda Telecom Limited: President Museveni letter to Gen. Kahinda Otafiire – ‘Re: Administration of Uganda Telecom Limited’ (09.11.2019)