Unbelievable as it sounds, Ugandans have been paying taxes to access social media sites and even dating sites like Tinder and Grindr, since June 1st. To access these social networking sites, Ugandans have to part with $0.05 daily as a tax.
Despite the government’s best attempts to make the matter seem normal, Ugandans are still resisting two months later after the tax were officially enacted. Protesters have taken to campaign in the streets of the capital Kampala calling on citizens to resist paying the taxes.
The police have come down on such protester with a heavy hand, with some accusing the authorities of using excessive force and being very brutal. Nonetheless, the campaigners have not relented in their quests. Instead, they have resorted to innovative means to protest.
Using voice recording, the protesters are now placing loudspeakers at strategic locations around Kampala calling out for people to refrain from paying the taxes.
“Don’t pay tax on social media and mobile money transactions. It hurts our pockets and is driving us into poverty,” said the voice recording from the loudspeakers.
Ugandans accessing the internet on their mobile devices are required to input a special code that shows they have complied and paid the tax before they are connected to the sites. The tax has met angry opposition from users, with some resorting to using VPNs to circumvent paying the fees. While others have taken to joining the sporadic street protests.
However, an open demonstration in Kampala is quite uncommon as the police quickly move in and put down the dissenting voices using teargas, batons, and as has been witnessed in recent social media tax protests, live fire.
Now that the protesters have taken to placing loudspeakers around the town, police go around seizing then.
“On Monday, police impounded the loudspeakers in Kampala. We shall get to know who is behind it,” said police spokesman, Emilian Kayima.
Kayima further said that the unusual protests (placing loudspeakers around town) were the brainchild of criminals who wanted a crowd to gather so they can execute a mass terror attack. Though the officer did not give any evidence to back their claim.