GovernanceIn the News

Internet usage in Uganda declined due to social media tax as President Museveni prepares to run for his sixth term

NAIROBI, KENYA––Despite spending more than two decades in power, Uganda’s ruling party has endorsed President Yoweri Museveni as its candidate for the 2021 presidential elections.

This means the 74-year-old East African county leader, who came to power in 1986, will be running for a sixth term as the unopposed choice of governing party.

The National Resistance Movement (NRM) which military operation Museveni led agreed, in a meeting chaired by Mr. Museveni himself on Wednesday, that he should “continue leading the movement and the state in 2021 and beyond to eliminate bottlenecks to transformation”.

Museveni who came to political as a freedom fighter and leader of a popular gorilla movement once said African presidents who “overstayed” in office were the root of Africa’s problems.

However, he said, while running for a fifth term in 2016, that it was not the right time for him to leave as he still had work to do.

Political pundits say the aging president candidacy for Uganda’s next election comes after he signed a 2017 bill that scrapped the presidential age limit of 75 to make an effectively eligible for a run.

Although the Uganda’s Supreme Court last month began hearing to challenge this President’s    decision.

Meanwhile, the number of internet users in Uganda dropped dramatically after the Ugandan government imposed a social media tax year last year, according to the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC).

President Yoweri Museveni had pushed for the social media taxes to boost government revenue and to end “gossip” on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, according to information from the presidency.

According to sources, subscribers pay a tax for using social media and tax for transferring money through mobile phone payments set at 200 Ugandan shillings [$0.05, £0.04] per day.

The UCC said internet subscription declined by more than 2.5 million users and money being transferred through mobile phones payments also fell by $1.2m (£920,000) since July 2018.

“The decline in the amount of business could partly be explained by the introduction of mobile money tax,” the UCC said.

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Jacob Ujamaa Nyerere

Jacob Ujamaa Nyerere is a public affairs researcher and senior investigative correspondent.

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