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Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni, took to Twitter to reaffirm the government recent resolve to introduce a $0.05 daily tax for Ugandans using a number of online services including social media.

In a strongly worded tweet, Museveni described social media as a “luxury by those who are enjoying themselves or those who are malicious…all the moral reasons are in favor of that tax.”

He continued to say that Ugandans used to “endlessly donating money to foreign telephone companies through chatting or even lying, to describe the profits all the multinationals in the telecommunications space are making in Uganda.

The two biggest telecom companies, MTN and Uganda Airtel are foreign-owned; the former being South African while the latter being Indian. Even the small telecom companies operating in Uganda, are to a great extent owned by foreigners, and thus most of the profits these companies make are repatriated back to their home countries.

The tax effective July 1st is pinching Ugandans in the worst way possible

Dickens Kamugisha, a charity worker in Kampala, said, “the tax is an absolute insult to Ugandans… we already buy data which the government taxes, why should we again have to pay this money to government to access these platforms?

And in any case, these are now essential communications channels that people use to reach loved ones, communicate with friends, socialize, and mobilize civically… the tax reflects the highest form of greed.”

Amnesty International earlier this week gave its two cents on the latest move by the Ugandan government to impose a tax on social media. The international human rights advocacy group called upon the government to rethink about the move and likened it to an attempt to clamp down dissent while disguising it as a measure to raise government revenue.

Talking about clamping down dissent, Yoweri Museveni has been the president of Uganda since 1986. He is now 73-years-old and could have been sitting his last term barred from running for office in the next election by the country’s constitution which sets the presidential age limit at 75.

However, last year the Ugandan parliament (controlled by the ruling party) amended the constitution removing the presidential age limit. This move was deliberate and preempted Museveni running for office at the end of his current tenure, but by then, he will be over 75 years. Now that the constitution has been amended, Uganda is looking at a scenario where it could have one president for life.

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