After oversleeping, biting poverty is finally making Ugandans ask questions.
Perhaps for the first time, many are reflecting on how the excesses of the ruling elite affect their pockets – and the food on (or not on) their plates.
The Kabula legislator, Mr James Kakooza, is a tireless patriot. Whenever the NRM government is floundering with a stupid policy, Mr Kakooza will go to our radio stations to defend it.
The programme producers probably also recognise his special gifts, and are glad to host someone they are sure would leave their audiences agape.
So, one evening early this week, when I briefly tuned into CBS, I found Mr Kakooza talking to Medi Ssebuliba about the controversial mobile money tax.
Still bubbling with enlightenment from an NRM Caucus meeting, Mr Kakooza laid out (I assume) the current NRM argument:
The person sending money (via mobile phone) is not earning anything in that exercise; but the person receiving the money is getting ‘income’ and should therefore be taxed.
In short, income tax!
Furthermore, one per cent is too big; zero-point-five per cent is reasonable.
Now, I am an idiot; so I started asking myself silly questions instead of following Mr Kakooza.
Say, I am walking on the street. I bump into my aunt, or my brother and my little nephew. They are shopping for school or heading to a clinic.
I judge that their need is greater than mine; or, out of sheer devotion, I get a desire to contribute something, however small. I hand over a crisp Shs20,000 note.
Lo and behold; my little nephew has made an income of Shs20,000!
So, income tax at 0.5 per cent: Shs1,000.
Why not? With the assistance of Big Brother street surveillance technology (in this case not mobile phones), a URA agent should immediately step forward and demand Caesar’s cut.
Settling a distant obligation. A gift. Income? Taxable income? Desperate for revenue to finance the prodigal extravagance of their inefficient corrupt regime, Ugandans in high places are trying all ways of stretching things to bleed other Ugandans without literally killing them; but vampires will be vampires.
Long before Ugandans started waking up, the 1986 ‘liberators’ set up a matrix of socio-economic inequality far more tilted than even under British colonialism.
The sense of social justice of a regime is reflected in its salary structure.
As a generalisation, it does not matter how much an African president officially earns. They are a bit like a prince, a hawker and a commission agent all in one, but on a very grand scale. Most get into office as mortals; most are kicked out as billionaires.
So, put aside the governor before 1962 and the president in 2018. But what do other Ugandans employed by the State earn per month?
By 1962, the highest-paid White administrators, judges, professors, consultants and other top experts (openly) earned between Shs4,000 and Shs6,000.
The lowest-paid Black slaves earned Shs150.
In 2018, the highest-paid Black people earn between Shs30 million and Shs60 million.
The lowest-paid Black slave earns about Shs150,000.
The top earners have had their pay multiplied by 10,000. And the lowest pay has been multiplied by only 1,000.
The difference between top and bottom under colonialism was a multiple of only 40.
Under NRM rule, the difference between top and bottom is a multiple of 400. Yes, four hundred. Before they steal!
The NRM has therefore multiplied colonial inequality 10 times.
With such figures, many Ugandans wish the British came back as liberators.
Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.