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    OPINION: Traders Should Be Commended For Peaceful EFRIS Strike….

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    Many people cannot differentiate between a strike or protest or demonstration or industrial action and rioting. The reason is that in both instances, a big number of people express their anguish over a certain grievance.

    They lay down their tools of work, shut off services they offer and call attention to their plight openly.

    Striking or demonstrating is a human right, is legitimate and nonviolent. Rioting, on the hand, is violent protest that leads to death, injury or destruction. Rioting is usually staged by actors with ulterior motives and usually, there is an unseen hand or a ringleader inciting the rioters.

    The recent action by traders (members of the business community) in Kampala and environs was nonviolent unlike previous mass action witnessed in the city. The Mabira riots were definitely violent; the Nakasero market protests were violent, they were riots; the November 2020 acts by political pushers were riots, and they led to loss of life; other protests like those of A4C and others codenamed differently were riots.

    Usually, riots result from incitement and the issuance of uncoordinated messaging intended to confuse the public. The agenda is often unclear or shrouded in politics so as to give it undue clout with the intention of undermining the Government.

    In the absence of coordination and clear engagement with different stakeholders, troublesome elements come into place and take charge of the mass action, start causing destruction, directly confronting other citizens going about their business as well as security personnel carrying out their normal duties of ensuring law and order.

    Any attempt to contain the situation is taken as highhandedness of the state, thus causing further incitement and clashing. There is a thin line between rioting and mass insurrection which can cause regime change and that’s usually what rioters are up to; not to address a particular grievance, but to capitalise on the discontent of a few to achieve other unrelated objectives.

    The “anti”-Electronic Fiscal Receipting and Invoicing Solution (EFRIS) traders were clear on the cause of their displeasure and this they voiced through their respective associations including Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA), Uganda Cargo Consolidators, Kampala Rice Traders and Federation of Uganda Traders Associations (FUTA). They freely expressed concern that EFRIS poses several challenges, notably: that it imposes a high cost of compliance, most traders didn’t understand how the system works and that it applied to all traders irrespective of whether they are VAT registered or not.

    Perfect! Problem identified, solution-finding begins! That’s how civilised society works, not jumping out of the blue and ransacking towns, burning tyres, breaking buildings and dragging passersby into one’s fight.

    This has been a big problem in this country when people instead of raising what is disturbing them are quick to engage in public confrontation. If it’s about taxes, how does it help matters to attack people physically or destroy property? If it’s about a bad section of road, how does it help matters burning tyres on tarmac when that action alone will destroy the good section of road?

    It’s high time that as citizens we embraced our full responsibility when expressing our frustrations and demanding for action from those in authority. Uganda is a democratic country where the voice of the downtrodden or aggrieved can be heard and responded to. We have Parliament, Local Councils, Cabinet, and a large media space. Any issue can be raised in a civil way and it’s attended to.

    In fact, even a sit-down strike over EFRIS, though peaceful, was unnecessary. Why? When traders closed their shops, they lost business-merchandise in stock could go bad, landlords would still demand rent, customers couldn’t get served and the economy was slowed all along the broad value chain. The advantage from the strike was, as already noted, it was nonviolent and also created ground to discuss some of these issues.

    Questions on EFRIS came at a time a number of measures were being instituted to raise tax revenues and so many mistook EFRIS for  a form of tax whereas it’s only a system used to track tax compliance and is designed to monitor the payment of value-added tax (VAT) and facilitate accurate record-keeping for business transactions.

    Again, the strike also raised the need to always adequately sensitise the public on changes taking place. It shouldn’t be a matter of slapping “solutions” in place without educating them on what is involved, because, specifically in the line of taxation, there is no day tax will ever be sweet.

    It’s always a bitter pill which should be packaged with sweeteners for better acceptability. Even now, URA should step up client engagement and provide information to partner agencies to explain to the public what this is all about, like RDCs who are in place to explain Government programs.

    EFRIS is a modern system already in use in countries like Tanzania and Rwanda. I thank H.E the President for putting his experience, seniority, wisdom and heart for the people to use by giving the traders a listening ear, taking note of their issues, halting some of the measures that the taxman had imposed and promising to meet the larger body of traders soon to hear directly from them. That’s a people-centered and responsive government.

    If the traders had sought the President’s ear before the strike, I know he would have listened to them with similar attention.

    When I saw Dr. Besigye joining the fray and attempting to stop the traders from engaging with the President, I was concerned that the agenda of the traders would be lost but, thankfully, they were not diverted. These traders are great contributors to our economy and they aren’t divided along sectarian lines. They should be supported to do business in a supportive environment free of lawlessness and undue interference. That’s what the President is working on!

     

    Faruk Kirunda is the Deputy Press Secretary to the President of Uganda

    Contact: kirundaf2@gmail.com

    0776980486/0783990861

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    NATIONAL

    OPINION: Why Media Council Can’t Punish The Observer Over Un Registered Journalists…

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    The writer Emmanuel Kirunda (L) and Media Council boss Paul Ekochu (R)

    Scriptures say in Proverbs 28:1 in the Bible that, “the wicked flees when there is no one pursuing them,” this won’t be the case with the Uganda Media Council team that has already mooted a plan to hound the Observer newspaper journalists under disguise of caring to find answers to their alleged breach of journalistic ethics in reference to its regulatory duty, as it cannot go unchallenged.

    In his letter to the Observer Newspaper Editor dated May 8, 2024 under which he summons them to appear before the Council’s disciplinary committee on Monday, 20th May 2024 under section 9 of Press and Journalist Act cap 105, over their May 8, 2024 news article of vol.19 issue 017, titled; ‘MPS Bribed to Save Government Agencies’ that is said to have derogated the sanctity and integrity of parliament, the Council’s chairperson Mr. Paul Ekochu also put the Newspaper administration on notice for failing to register the particulars of its Editor contrary to section 5 of the same Act, saying it is a criminal offense.

    While the Council is charged with the duty of registering journalists and or enforcing penalties in the wake of any un compliance case, it cannot legally exercise the same in its current form, following the violation of requirements under the same legal instrument from onset by the ICT Ministry that performs the supervisory role over the Council and other bodies therein.

    As part of its mandate, the ICT Ministry should be doing a lot in ensuring the better welfare standards of journalists by prevailing over the errant employers who time and again occasion exploitation, but sadly focuses a lot on accusing the practitioners of falling short of ethical standards whose viability spines around the welfare unanswered question, a corner stone to independent journalism.

    Suffice to note is that, although the draconian Act was enacted in bad faith with an intention of annihilating the Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) that had already been around in the space since 1963 managing the journalistic landscape when it was put in place in 1995, this never succeeded as it was rejected by journalists given its anomalies, and it only now remains on books but can’t practically, legally, journalistically and logically be enforced.

    And time has come for the officials in the ministry to accept the sectoral reality.

    Media Council Wrong to Register Journalists.

    As of now the Uganda Media Council cannot sanction the Observer Editor over failure to have registered their particulars or any other journalist, and if this happened, it is illegal according to the High Court’s ruling that was given in January 14, 2021 petition filed by Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL) and journalists under the Editors Guild against the Attorney General for Media Council.

    Filing of this petition was prompted by December 20th 2020, then the Deputy Inspector General of Police Maj. Gen. Paul Lokech’s public statement that the Police would block journalists without the Media Council Press cards from covering the 2021 general elections, in reference to the flawed Media Council guidelines for the 2021 general elections.

    Court declared that the registration of journalists by the Media Council of Uganda without an operational National Institute of Journalists of Uganda (NIJU) to enroll journalists in accordance with the Press and Journalist Act is illegal, irrational and procedurally irregular.

    Like Media Council, NIJU, as a creator of the bad law (Press and Journalist Act of 1995), has been at its death point from onset.

    The Councils’ purported guidelines had earlier been strongly protested by the UJA and other journalist organizations, noting that their intention was to curtail the enjoyment of press freedom ahead of the elections.

    The trial judge Esther Nambayo stressed that without the functioning of the NIJU, the Media Council would be acting outside its mandate to register and issue practicing certificates to journalists in Uganda.

    Court also issued an order of permanent injunction restraining the implementation of the illegal and irrational directives of the Media Council.

    Now one wonders how the Observer newspaper will be subjected to penalties by the same Council in moribundity of the would-be journalists’ registration authority!

    Would one therefore, be wrong if they describe as contempt of Court the Council’s decision with regard to the Observer journalists’ fate?

    Would it be wrong for journalists to believe that the Council’s intervention during this time is an attempt to gag critical journalism that helps with pointing to the ills in the society that should instead be addressed by the relevant authorities?

     

    “The Pen is Mightier Than the Gun”.

    This article was written By Emmanuel Kirunda, Journalist and Secretary General, Uganda Journalists Association (UJA).

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    NATIONAL

    OPINION: Bobi Wine’s NUP At Crossroads As Internal Strife & Looming Split Paves Way For Gen. Museveni To Reclaim Buganda…

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    NUP boss Bobi Wine. Inset is President Museveni. On the left is the writer George Mubiru

    Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu’s personal pursuit of excellence may have inadvertently fueled National Unity Platform (NUP) vanity, creating internal tension.

    The “fearfully high standard” alludes to the challenging expectations one imposes on oneself, potentially resulting in moments of self-loathing when those standards aren’t met. It explores the complex relationship between personal aspirations, the emotional toll they can take and NUP’s aspirations as an institution.

    The young party has no chance of resurrection. Tireless efforts of displacing Hon. Mpuuga has completely buried it with least chances of remaining the chief opposition party ( something Bobi Wine feels comfortable to settle down for) come 2026.

    The storm has erupted through out Buganda and angered the staunch Buganda traditionalists and elite politicians whose mirror is Mpuuga. Bobi wine has  created a small group within NUP that believe in kleptocracy, an egocentric virtue which can not mirror out political, social and economic inclusiveness of all Ugandans.

    Bobi Wine and his small group in NUP that seems to feel satisfied with polluting the masses and hoodwink them in order to exploit, impoverish, repress and lie to make money. This is exhibited in his previous calls on the public to riot and reckless utterances of politics of identity to gain sympathy. He has on several occasions attempted to slash social and economic programs extended to the wanainch from western countries and the global economy. They worship Money and opposition power supremacy.

    When more than three thirds of the current NUP Members of Parliament continue to fume over Bobi wine’s poor administration of the party, it has opened the eyes of majority ugandans that the cardinal intention of NUP is not removing Gen. Museveni from power, but to make money.

    There is continuous accusations and counter accusations with in the party at a prime time NRM is reorganizing itself through structures to massively win the forthcoming polls. For example, Hon Abed Bwanika has on several occasions castigated NUP’s secretary general for calendistinely working for NRM and called upon him to resign. He has also accused NUP top leadership for placing homosexuality on its high agenda, something which is morally unacceptable to Uganda’s customs and culture.

    The internal strife has further been worsened by another persistent battle for the true ownership of the party between Bobi Wine and the Kibalama group. This has recently failed the approval of pro Bobi Wine’s new NUP constitution by the electoral commission.

    Various NUP MPs, have on several occasions come out to condemn their party of extortion and continuous money demands. They have expressed regret of landing into the wrong hands of the NUP leader. Others have fallen out with their party on refusal to implement dirty missions which could lead the country and wanainch into turmoil as revealed by hanji katerega when he recently appeared for an interview.

    What is the implication of the  Mpuuga-Bobi Wine-Kibalama fight?

    1. The young party has split into two groups and this division has left Bobi Wine and his group with out the capacity to bridge it. It should be remembered that the same happened to Busoga, the only sub region Bobi Wine won outside Buganda and currently there and two parallel groups; one led by Moses Bigirwa and another by Andrew Kaluya.
    2. NUP has lost its only remaining strong hold of Buganda. Hon Mpuuga is seen as the leading politician in greater Masaka and therefore perceive the allegations against him as witch hunt by Bobi Wine.
    3. A looming political party or pressure group by the elite politicians and majority NUP members of parliament is on the cards. This will be the last straw in the back of NUP. Some people especially the youth, well knowing that NUP cannot cause the change they desire, will definitely follow the new anticipated wave.
    4. President Museveni and the NRM will gain back it’s support from Buganda because of consistence and good will to the country. People would rather revert to NRM for stability. I prophesize victory for Gen. Museveni and the NRM in Buganda come 2026.

    Gen. Museveni is like a cliff. He can’t betray the mission he accepted from the people of Uganda as a revolutionist and freedom fighter. He stands firm and tames the fury of the water around him and strikes with a win.

    He once said; “All those in NUP are my children. You will see. I’m in there, everywhere and work with my children. Kyagulanyi’s group, I will finish it. You just wait. I work from underground as you’re up there shouting oye! Oye! Oye!”

     

    The writer, George Mubiru, is a researcher, political analyst & Ass. RCC JINJA City.

    Tel. 0754877595

    Email: georgemubiru93@gmail.com

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    MY MONEY

    Leaders Of Traders Panicking After M7 Directs Investigation Over Allegations Of An Invisible Foreign Hand Fueling Their Strikes To Sabotage Economy…

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    L-R: Some of the leaders of traders: Godfrey Katongole, David Kabanda and Thadeus Musoke

    Kampala Metropolitan Senior Minister Hajjat Minsa Kabanda has exclusively confirmed to theGrapevine that president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has directed the country’s intelligence organs and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to investigate the alleged invisible hand behind traders’ leadership.

    She explained that preliminary investigations have established that some leaders of traders who are advocating for endless strikes are biased in their decisions because there is an invisible hand pushing them with an agenda of sabotaging the country’s economy and creating an ungovernable situation.

    “We know whatever they are planning. Our people are on ground, so they should stand warned,” Kabanda said.

    She revealed that President Museveni was shocked to establish that in Kampala city alone, traders have more than 30 associations and each one of them has command.

    This has created suspicion and the need for an investigation to establish their true motives.

    The development comes at a time when traders are threatening to go into a two months strike without opening their shops in the city center if president Museveni doesn’t address their demands including the banning of the Electronic Receipting and Invoicing System (EFRIS).

    On 7th May 2024, Museveni directed Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to sit down with leaders of traders and sort out their differences.

    The President guided that once these leaders and URA agree, they should make a joint report which they should read to him and other traders on 20th of June 2024 at Kololo independence grounds.

    However, before that meeting, Minister Kabanda has disclosed that Museveni is set to meet leaders of traders in the State House to have some issues sorted out noting that government is doing everything in its power to make sure that what happened on 7th May 2024 never happens again.

    She explained that it was bad for traders to shout at the President and embarrass senior government officials to the extent of accusing some of corruption insisting that traders’ behavior sent a warning signal to government that there must be an invisible hand influencing and facilitating them.

    theGrapevine has established that the leadership of Kampala City Traders Association(KACITA) led by Thadeus Musoke Nagenda, Federation of Uganda Traders Association(FUTA), Katukazane Shoe Dealers, Kampala Arcaders Advocacy Forum, United Arcarders Traders Enterprenuers Association,  Uganda Needy and Squatters Association have resolved to join hands and strategise on how to come up with a common voice before the President.

    Highly placed sources in intelligence have revealed to theGrapevine that all eyes are on David Kabanda who is being investigated for working for some opposition bigwigs who promised him support in the coming elections.

    Sources said that Kabanda wants to become the city councilor on Lord Mayor Ssalongo Erias Lukwago’s council.

    However, veteran journalist and the Senior presidential advisor on media Joseph Tamale Mirundi advised Museveni not to take lightly statements made in the United Kingdom’s House of Lords that King Charles’s leadership should influence regime change in Uganda.

    He explained that the western powers are going to use all the available means to sabotage Museveni’s leadership insisting that there is invisible hand in traders’ frequent strikes.

    But a section of KACITA leadership told theGrapevine that there are people in President Museveni’s government who are facilitating the creation of endless traders associations with the aim of benefiting from them and fighting the unity among traders.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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