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OPINION: Why is Museveni amending the law using social media that he says is for rumourmongers?

'Mr President, how did you assent to a 1% when you intended 0.5%, did you not read?'

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By Magelah Peter Gwayaka

OPINION–President Museveni Wednesday evening came out in defence of the new controversial social media law as well as a clarification on the 1% levy imposed on mobile money transactions.

Whereas he explained his stance on the social media tax, the president appears to have come out changing a tax (on mobile money) and I think there is something totally wrong with him and his advisors.

First, Cabinet, that he heads, could have passed 0.5% but the duty to pass the actual figure is with Parliament. He cannot purport to change a law of Parliament just because he had a different intention.

This is a tax passed after a Bill was tabled before Parliament, debated and approved and forwarded to his office for a presidential assent. Once it became a law, the President personally superintended over the Budget Reading last month wherein Finance and Economic Planning minister Matia Kasaija read the tax out loud for all to hear.

Needless to repeat, Museveni was present during the reading and, if he wasn’t “lost in another world,” heard the 1% tax and knew exactly what it was all about.

If the president really understands the law making process, he and his advisors would know that a Bill after being passed by Parliament has to be assented to by the president. Question is, did he assent to a law he has no clue about? If he hasn’t assented to it, why is he wasting our time with press releases when he can send the Bill back to Parliament and ask them to make changes before he assents to it? Who is fooling who here?

There has already been enough controversies and confusions over these taxes. Just this week, Cabinet was said to have agreed to drop the mobile money levy. Of course, a day or so too late after telecoms had done the injustice of double or triple taxing users.

'Question is, did he assent to a law he has no clue about? If he hasn\'t assented to it, why is he wasting our time with press releases when he can send the Bill back to Parliament and ask them to make changes before he assents to it?'

Magelah Peter Gwayaka Lawyer and citizen

For a government with all the ministers, hundreds of advisors (the president praises them in his social media post) and a Parliament that is virtually on its chessboard to sow such confusion in the public is downright sloppy. Archaic at worst. How did we get here?

As it stands, what the president calls “miscommunication” is a fertile ground for those aggrieved having lost money to the controversial tax to seek legal redress.

READ: Museveni defends tax on ‘luxury’ social media, halves MoMo levy

It is also weird that Museveni uses social media to communicate his message across and claims citizens are spending his money on social media. Well, even the money he spends is not his. The only money he can lay claim on is his salary or where he sells his cows. The money Ugandans earn and spend is their money which he should respect if he is going to beg us to pay taxes for his salary.

It is understandable as Ugandans are now used to Museveni’s disdain for citizens so much that he should call social media users out in unpalatable manners yet his own NRM party uses social media to reach out to the people. Museveni himself employs hundreds of social media lieutenants to engage the public or fight social media wars on his behalf.

Or maybe he is not aware of this since such recruitment is done by his staffers?

Yes, the problems of failure to tax telephone company are real, but does social media tax solve it? His response to this is similar to one having stomach ache and decides to cit his toe nails as a solution. Again can’t you guys address the problem since you have identified it?

Magelah Peter Gwayaka is a trained lawyer and a citizen

@pmagelah

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