I followed a conversation between (@stoneatwine) and (@like_a_gem); the former stating that everyone in Uganda is becoming an expert on aircraft procurement while the latter responded saying, “We’re experts on everything.
We were tax consultants just the other day. Whenever opportunity presents itself, we’re ready.”
And trust when they say they are ready.
They will scrutinize everything, from Margaret Muhanga’s ‘billion goats’, the BOU golden pens, the 'togikwaatako' fracas, the Rwanda-Uganda comparison, Rwanda’s Arsenal FC tourism deal, to the recent Uganda Airlines Airbus A330.
These ‘twitteratti’ will not let you off the hook just that easily.
And I must admit, they always have government responding fast! Who knew the president would comment that fast about the Mobile Money Tax…using social media?
Many government officials like Frank Tumwebaze were on Twitter doing their best to explain to the loud sirens of the hard-faced social media community.
Despite being angered by this uproar though, I think this is splendid and I hope the government sees the opportunity lying beneath the dirt.
Before I explain why I think this is ACTUALLY GOOD for the government, let me take this chance to say this;
what a way to relaunch Uganda Airlines!
I mean, it could have been some kind of shock surprise with no attention at all, with some of us probably hearing about this over the weekend lunchtime news which no one ever watches but, if this was a PR stunt, PRAU should consider giving Mr. Bagenda, the CEO, whose job was never advertised, an early award. (Not forgetting the fact that the name, Uganda Airlines, is still contested).
Back to the explaining, I must admit that I have never seen a more patriotic Ugandan than the ones on social media (which government is taxing).
These are Ugandans who, despite it all, are ‘ready to be experts at anything’ for the good of the country. These Ugandans feel for the Pearl of Africa.
They demand for accountability; call out for action, quiz authority, question procedures and choices made because at the end of the day, they are Ugandan.
Isn’t this the very patriotism that President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has often called out for in Ugandans? If Ugandans didn’t love their country, would they waste their precious ‘Over The Top Tax’ (OTT) to express varied emotions over the procurement choices for the Uganda Airlines?
If this does not showcase patriotism, “the vigorous support for one’s country” then I need to buy a new dictionary.
But dear Ugandans, those that love this country so dearly, we need to ask ourselves another very important question; is this government as patriotic as we are? Is this government willing to ask themselves the questions we ask them before they make different choices?
For example, wouldn’t it have been more patriotic for the finance minister to do a quick survey and study on how the mobile money tax of 1% would affect the ordinary Ugandan before proposing it before parliament?
And this again even pushes aside the fact that our dear government does not see it fit to have a two-way conversation after implementation of choices we do not need.
It would have been much easier for UCC to sensitize the public about the need to have social media tax and the mobile money tax. (This discussion is for another blog)
I hope ‘they’ feel the guilt one day.
I pray that one day, ‘their’ hearts will reconnect with those of patriotic Ugandans on social media. It is a prayer that many of us have but we still hope for the best. But as we hope for that, I am here thinking that this social media patriotism is something that President Museveni and his government should be thanking God for. It is an opportunity in disguise.
How? Let me elucidate…!
Government should now more than ever, focus a lot of resources on streamlining mindsets with social media.
I was rubbed well when I saw the president respond to Ugandans using social media during the social media fracas.
How about invest in doing that more often! How about invest in turning these negative social media sentiments into positive ones? Imagine how much patriotic power the government would have online if it aligned with these Ugandans?
I hope the president reads this but, I will not be surprised if, after this Ugandan Airlines backlash, he ‘orders’ for an investigation into the procurement of those ‘Airbus things’.
Mr Tamale is a Marketing and Communications professional