Rising commodity prices are choking us, Muslims tell govt

Muslims at Wandegeya Mosque in Kampala on May 2, 2022. Muslim leaders have asked the government to come up with a solution to curb the rising cost of commodities in the country. PHOTO | FRANK BAGUMA

What you need to know:

  • In Soroti town, Rajab Ngobi, a Muslim faithful, said the situation is so bad that breadwinners are now at loggerheads with their spouses, who think that they don’t want to provide basic necessities.

Muslim leaders have called on the  government to come up with a solution to curb the rising cost of commodities in the country.

The leaders made the remarks during  Idd ul Fitr prayers on Monday.

The Mufti of Uganda, Sheikh Shaban Ramathan Mubajje, while leading prayers at Uganda National Mosque at Old Kampala, said rising commodity prices have put Ugandans in a chokehold.

“Why can’t the government scrap taxes on raw materials from which commodity goods are made so that Ugandans can get a sigh of relief? The prices of soap, cooking oil, and sugar, among others, have shot up yet people have no money to buy them,” Sheikh Mubajje said, attracting cheers from the faithful.

The leader of Kibuli Muslim sect, Supreme Mufti Muhammed Galabuzi, and the Kamuli District Kadhi, Ismail Kazibwe,  said  Ugandans are choking on high prices of commodities.

In Mbale City, Sheikh Abubaker Magombe, who led prayers at Umar and Yumbe Mosque in Mbale City, said many Muslims are sleeping hungry because of the high food prices. 

“We call upon the government to find a solution before it is too late,” he said. 

The Tororo District Kadhi, Sheikh Yusuf Ibrahim Asante Ragang, blamed the rise in prices of commodities on greed.

He said Uganda has enough resources for all its citizens but “there is a section of greedy people who are hoarding commodities to make more profits”.

In Soroti town, Rajab Ngobi, a Muslim faithful, said the situation is so bad that breadwinners are now at loggerheads with their spouses, who think that they don’t want to provide basic necessities. 

“Something should be done to shield the citizens from exorbitant prices,” he said. 

Sheikh Yahaya Masiko in Fort Portal City, who led prayers at Kabarole main mosque, urged the faithful to help the needy people.

“During the month of Ramadan, there was unity among ourselves. People have been fasting and giving to the needy. After this period, our people will continue observing the same principles,” he said.

While responding to the appeal by the religious leaders, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, who attended the Idd prayers at Uganda National Mosque, said the government is considering not increasing taxes on imported raw materials in the next financial year.

Meanwhile, Mr Habib Aluma, the Secretary Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, West Nile region, urged Muslims in Arua City and other parts of the region to be exemplary to the society by avoiding criminal habits. 

“Islam condemns gender based violence and all acts of immorality. Parents should sit together with their family members in meetings and find solutions other than engaging in violence,” he said.

The Kabale District Kadhi, Sheikh Kabu Lule, said despite the challenges they are going through, they should not engage in domestic violence.

The regional Kadhi of Ankore-Kigezi, Sheikh Abdulkarim Katamba, who led Idd prayers at Abubakar Jamia Masjid in Kakoba ward in Mbarara City, said family wrangles are causing insecurity in the country.

“I urge you fellow Muslims to respect and love one another to avoid the escalating cases of family wrangles in our communities. Let the children obey their parents and above all do Allah’s will,” he said.

At Masaka Main Mosque, the Imam, Sheikh Abasi Nseera, urged security agencies to always carry out investigations before arresting Muslims suspected to have links with the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

Sheikh Nseera said although the ADF has Muslims in its ranks, they don’t represent Islam as a faith.

“We have seen on several occasions security agencies raiding mosques to arrest Muslims suspected of being ADF members, but in most cases those that are arrested are found to be innocent,” he said.

“Like the heinous actions of the defunct Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in northern Uganda were not blamed on Christians, it should be with the Muslims because ADF doesn’t represent the Islamic faith,” he added.

Sheikh Nsera also asked the government to devise means of running its programmes without necessarily putting heavy taxes on Ugandans, who are already battling the high cost of living occasioned by the high commodity prices.

Background

Commodity prices have risen worldwide and this has partially been blamed on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has affected the supply of some commodities such as fuel, gas, grains, among others.

The war came at a time when many countries were easing the lockdown restrictions which were put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19.

While addressing the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Parliamentary Caucus meeting on April 25, President Museveni explained that during the Covid-19-induced lockdown, the demand for some commodities went down which resulted in some companies running bankrupt and closing their businesses.

He added that when the lockdown restrictions were eased, the demand for the commodities increased but the suppliers were not making enough to meet the demand.

Several ountries have put up measures to cushion their citizens against rising commodity prices. These include suspending some taxes, price controls, pay rise, and subsidies.

But Uganda hasn’t presented any plan to help its nationals.

On Friday, Mr Museveni said they have yet to find any short term solutions to the crisis. 

He, however, said the NRM party caucus would meet soon to discuss how to approach the problem. 

However, during Labour Day celebrations on Sunday, the President  

told Ugandans to make do with what they can afford and avoid what is expensive amid the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities.

 “If there is no bread, eat muwogo (cassava). Africans confuse themselves. You are complaining there will be no bread, if there is no bread, eat cassava. I do not eat bread myself,” he said.

Compiled by Simon Peter Emwamu, Alex Ashaba, Phillip Wafula, Sam Caleb Opio, Bill Oketch, Robert Muhereza, Denis Edema, Al Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, Malik F Jjingo, Dan Wandera, Sylvester Ssemugenyi, Jessica Nabukenya, Brian A Kesiime, Sheillar Mutetsi, Perez Rumanzi, Felix Ainebyoona,  Scovin Iceta, Felix  Warom, Robert Elema, Marko Mariko Taibot, Tobbias Jolly Owiny, Joseph Omollo, Micheal Waniala, Fred Wabende, Sylivia Katushabe, Amos Ngwomoya, and Andrew Bagala.



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