OTT ends today, memories that will forever remain in minds of Ugandans

The Over The Top (OTT) tax bill was one of the memorable bills that were tabled on the floor of rhe 10th parliament. The bill attracted hot debates on the floor and corridors of parliament, in media and in public domain.

The bill attracted so much drama including riots in Kampala city, arrests which later were followed by court sessions.

OTT ends today at 12:00AM and as Ugandans will start accessing Internet services and all other social media sites without paying the Over The Top (OTT) tax or using encrypted connections such as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).

The government has abolished the Shs200 per day OTT tax and imposed a 12 per cent tax on Internet data in the new financial year, which starts tomorrow

As hours to the end of this direct tax burdens are numbered, Parrots UG looks at some issues,list of MPs who voted against / in favour of the motion; events that will forever remain in the minds of Ugandan Techliners and the world at large.

In May 2018, debate on tax on social media faced stiff resistance from younger MPs like the then Kyadondo East area MP Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu also known as Bobi Wine, dismissing it as double taxation.

Kyagulanyi was supported by Padyere County’s Joshua Anywarach, and Silas Aogon of Kumi Municipality. They argued that since WhatsApp is accessed through already taxed airtime, another levy would be an infringement on the users’ rights.

Former LoP Winner Kiiza

Uganda’s then Leader of Opposition in Parliament (LoP) Winnie Kiiza is well reknown for her great influence on protesting against the controversial social media tax bill.

The controversial bill imposed a mandatory Shs200 daily levy for social media users as introduced by Parliament through the Excise Duty (Amendment) Act 2021.

This was to enable Ugandans to access social media platforms including WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram among others.

A number of legislators majority of the opposition were opposed to the bill while their counterparts in the ruling party supported the proposed bill.

Giving his submission on the proposed bill, the now former Bunyole West county MP James Waluswaka made mockeries to MPs opposed to the bill saying that if they did not afford paying taxes they should go and die. He argued taxes would give the country a break from heavy loans and grants.

“If you don’t want to pay taxes go and die. We are tired of these loans and grants,” Hon Waluswaka submitted.

The then state minister for finance and Economic planning, David Bahati who had moved the bill rejected the assertion that government is taxing data or internet to limit human rights to freedom of expression and access to information , saying it was only the service being taxed.

He said with only Shs200 charge per a day, each consistent WhatsApp user will pay only Shs73,000 in one year.

Imposing OTT & Mobile money taxes was according to President Yoweri Museveni meant boost government revenue and to end “gossip” on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.

This however received public backslashes with many activists accusing Museveni regime of stifling dissent voices by making poorer people pay to be online.

In June 2018, parliament sat to decide on the proposed UShs 200 OTT tax and 1% tax levied on all Mobile phone money transactions what came to be known as Mobile money tax.

Of the 288 votes cast, 124 legislators voted for the removal of the tax while 164 voted against it.

The UShs 200 OTT tax then took effect on July 1, 2018 and few days later, the Kyadondo East area MP Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine mobilised 300 aggrieved citizens including journalists like NTV’s Raymond Mujuni, university students to take on protests against the tax.

Police fired live bullets and sprayed teargas in Kampala to disperse protestors but all in vain. The more they dispersed the protestors the more they (police) boosted public morale to oppose the tax.

On that fateful day, three suspects including David Luke, Katongole Julius and Fred Nyanzi Ssentamu were arrested on allegations of holding an illegal assembly.

Police further alleged that during the protest the Divisional Police Commander Kampala Central Police Station, Joseph Bakaleke was assaulted and his handcuffs stolen. These allegations led to the arrest of Bobi Wine’s Bodyguard Edward Ssebuwufu aka Eddie Mutwe on allegations of assault and theft.

On July 13, the Officer in charge criminal investigation at CPS Kampala, Joshua Tusingwire wrote to the speaker of parliament Rt Hon Kadaga summoning Hon Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, whom they (police) accused of holding an illegal assembly.

This then was followed by till date endless court sessions at Buganda Road Court where Kyagulanyi and three others were charged with disobeying statutory duty, a case hearing that has till date flopped.

Kyagulanyi appearing before Buganda Road Court on OTT tax protest charges.

As the situation worsened, government bowed to pressures and agreed to review the taxes in consideration of public demands.

The then Prime Minister Rt. Hon Ruhakana Rugunda wrote to the speaker of parliament Rt. Hon Rebecca  Kadaga (former) informing her about the reviews.

“Government is now reviewing the taxes taking into consideration the concerns of the public and its implications on the budget.

“The president has provided guidance on the matter and encouraged further discussion with a view to reaching consensus on how we should raise the much needed revenue to finance our budget.”

After intensive debates, parliament reviewed the Mobile Money Tax and was reduced from 1% to 0.5% per transactions made staying the controversial OTT tax.

The OTT tax stayed with stiff opposition and a number of Ugandans had now resorted to using Virtual Private Networks (VPN) claiming they cannot pay taxes to an untrusted government.

Government has since been mulling the change for sometime until April 2021 when government agreed to drop the OTT tax replacing it with 12% tax levied on Internet data in the new financial year, which takes effect tomorrow Thursday July 1, 2021.

Below is how the respective MPs voted for OTT.

Ababiku Jesica – No

Abacacon Charles – Absent

David Abala – Yes

Cathbert Abigaba – No

Achen Christine – Absent

Remegio Achiya – No

Achia Teres – No

Sarah Opendi – No

Lucy Achiro – Yes

James Acidri – Yes

Julius Bua – No

Anne Adeke – Yes

Hellen Adoa – No

Moses Adome – Absent

Lilly Adong – Yes

Abbas Agaba – Absent

Maria Gorette Agiro – No

Paul Akamba – Yes

Prossy Akampulira – Yes

Franca Akello – Absent

Lucy Akello – Yes

Rose Lilly Akello – Absent

Sylvia Akello – Absent

James Akena – Yes

Anthony Akol – Yes

Maxwell Akora – Absent

Lawrence Akunguzibwe – No

Vilolet Adome Akurut – Absent

Margaret Aleper – No

Tom Aza – Absent

Moses Ali – No

Alion Yorke – Absente

Santa Alum – Yes

Alupo Faith – Absente

Judith Alyek – No

Agnes Amede – Absent

Susan Amero – Yes

Monicah Amoding – Yes

Anita Among – No

Betty Among – Absent

Jacquline Amongin – No

Paul Amoru – No

Doreen Amule – No

Fred Angella – Absent

Angudru Moses – Absent

Fredrick Angura – No

Evelyne Anite – No

Anyakin Esther – Absent

Joshua Anywarach – Yes

Silas Aogon – Yes

Bett Aol – Yes

Rama Jaquiline – No

Gabriel Ajedra – No

Herbert Ariko – Yes

Arinaitwe Rwakajara – Absent

Alinda Gordon – Absent

Asaba Paul – Absent

Hellen Asamo – Yes

Evelyne Asiimwe – Absent

Elly Asiku – No

Brenda Suubi – Absent

Bernard Atiku – Yes

Beatrice Anywar – Absent

Atim Ongom – Yes

Cecilia Ogwal – Yes

Atuhairwe Jacklet – Absent

Etiang Stella – Absent

Jane Pacuto – No

Betty Engola – No

Ayak Rose – No

Ayebazibwe Justine – No

Micheal Ayapa – No

Ayo Tonny – Yes

Dothy Azaire – No

Baba James – Absent

Babadiri Margaret – No

Babirye Judith – Absent

Babirye Kityo – No

Mary Kabanda – Absent

Veronica Babirye – Absent

Aggrey Bagiire – No

John Bagoole – No

Baguma Splenza – Absent

David Bahati – No

Nambooze Betty – Absent

Charles Bakabulindi – Yes

Moses Balyeku – No

Betty Muzanira – Yes

Bangirana Kawooya – Absent

Andrew Aja – Yes

Chris Bartyomunsi – Absent

Basalirwa – Yes

Baseke Fred – Yes

Bategeka Lawrence – No

Saida Bumba – Absent

Josephine Beerona – Absent

Norah Bigirwa – Absent

Bintu Jalia – No

Mukitale Steven – Absent

Nanyondo Birungi – Absent

Sam Bitangaro – No

Lawrence Biyika – Absent

Bukenya Micheal – No

Mary Karooro – No

Tom Butime – No

Nsaba Buturo – No

Bwiino Fred – No

John Byabagambi – No

Abraham Byandala – No

Alex Bakunda – No

Flavia Byekwaso – No

Sam Byebisho – Yes

Robert Centenary – Yes

Rukiya Chekamondo – No

Lydia Chewel – No

Chelimo Reuben – Absent

Evelyn Chemutai – Yes

Sam Cheptoris – No

Dhamuzubgu Geoffrey – No

Zaitun Driwaru – No

Simon Dujangu – Absent

Mark Angel – No

Musa Echweru – No

Jennifer Nantume – Absent

Kenneth Esiangu – Yes

Cosmas Elotu – No

Isaac Etuka – Absent

Kaps Fungaroo – Absent

Gafabusa Muhumuza – Yes

Bennis Ssozi – Absent

Francis Gonahasa – Yes

Guma Gumisiriza – No

Gume Fredrick Ngobi – Absent

Hashim Suleiman – No

Ikojo John Bosco – No

Ilukor Charles – No

Veronica Esala – No

Isaac Musumba – No

Tophace Byagira – Absent

Herbert Kabafunzaki – Absent

Rose Kabagyenyi – Absent

Sheila Mwine – No

Micheal Kabaziguruka – Absent

Kafeero Ssekitoleko – Absent

Jackson Kafuuzi – Absent

Moses Gume – Absent

Kahima Moses Mugabi – No

Hellen Kahunde – Yes

Aston Kajara – Absent

Kazungu Apollo – No

James Kakooza – No

Joseph Kakooza – No

Christopher Kalemba – Absent

Kyomukama Kaliisa – Absent

Hanifah Kawooya – No

Ssengo Emmanuel – No

Andrew Kiiza – Absent

Kamara John – Absent

Pamela Kamugo – Yes

Ephraim Kamuntu – Absent

Kamussime Caroline – Absent

Pentagon Kamusiime – Yes

Stephen Kangwangye – No

David Karubanga – No

Gerald Karuhanga – Absent

Elizabeth Karungi – Absent

Matia Kasaija – No

Moses Kasibante – Yes

Atwooki Kasirivu – No

Robert Kasolo – Absent

Ibrahim Kasozi – Yes

Joseph Kazoosi – Absent

Kasule Robert – No

Patrick Kasumba – No

Joy Katali – Yes

Kato Lubwama – Yes

Katoti Hatwib – No

Katumba Wamala – No

Abdu Katuntu – Yes

Hood Katuramu – Absent

Katusabe Atkins – Absent

Ruth Katushabe – Yes

Oliver Katwesigye – Yes

Pauline Kemirembe – Yes

Grace Kesande – Yes

Justine Kayinza – Yes

Henry Kibalya – Yes

Ronald Kibuule – No

Kiize Ernest – No

Kiiza Stella – Absent

Kiiza Winfred – Yes

Kinobe Herbert – Absent

Kipterit Christopher – Absent

Kisa Stephen – Absent

Noeline Kisemera – No

Aboud Kitata – Absent

Mary Kitutu – Absent

Kiwanda Godfrey – No

Kiwanuka Keefa-Kiyingi – Yes

Kizige Moses – Absent

Lyandro Komaketch – Yes

Komuhangi Margaret – No

Ivan Koreta – Absent

Felix Kulaigye – No

Kumama Nsamba – No

Kunihira Agnes – Absent

Peace Kusasira – Absent

Pecos Kuteesa – No

Sam Kutesa – Absent

Grace Freedom – No

Robert Ssentamu – Yes

Amelia Kyambadde – Absent

Haruna Kyeyune – Absent

Lakot Suzan – No

Catherine Lamwaka – No

Lamwaka Margaret – Absent

Lanyero Molly – No

Peter Lokeris – No

Samson Lokeris – No

John Baptist Lokit – No

Abrahams Loki – Absent

Simon Lokodo – No

Lokoru Albert – No

Lokwing Hillary – No

Lowila – Yes

Medard Sseggona – Yes

Kenneth Lubogo – Absent

Nelson Lufafa – Yes

Amos Lugoloobi – No

David Lukyamuzi – Yes

Sam Lyomoki – Yes

Paulsen Luttamaguzi – Yes

Macho Geoffrey – Yes

Maganda Julius-No

Magyezi Raphael – Absent

Makumbi Kamya – Absent

Ishma Mafabi – No

Apollo Masika – No

Stephen Mayende – Absent

Muyanja Mbabali – No

Mbabazi Jenipher – Yes

Mbaju Jackson – Absent

Taban Christopher – Absent

Esther Mabayo – No

Mbeiza Margaret – Absent

Mbogo Kezekia – Absent

Mbwatekamwa Gaffa – Yes

Robert Migadde – Yes

Mirembe Lydia – Yes

Joyce Moriku – Absent

Mathis Mpugga – Yes

Mudokoi Fred – Yes

Kahondo Donozia – Yes

Peter Mugema – Yes

Milly Mugenyi – No

Mugoya Gaster – Absent

Roland Mugume – Yes

Muhanga Margaret – Absent

Muheirwe Daniel – No

Harold Muhindo- Yes

Julius Mukasa – Yes

Mukasa Muruli – Absent

Robinah Mukisa – Absent

Mukoda Zabwe – Absent

Francis Mukula – No

Mulindwa Isaac – Yes

Mubaraka Munyagwa – Absent

Eric Musaana – Yes

Henry Musasizi – No

Paul Musoke – Absent

Musoke Robert – No

David Mutebi – Absent

Noah Wanzala – No

Rose Muntonyi – No

Muwanga Kivumbi – Yes

Muyanja Johnson – Yes

Muyingo John – No

Mwesige Adolf – No

Mwesigwa Rukutana – No

Mwesigye Fred – No

Mwijukye Francis – Yes

Mwine Mpaka – Yes

Paul Mwiru – Yes

Judith Nabakooba – Absent

Nabayiga Aidah – Yes

Nabanja Robinah – Absent

Nabulindo Jane – Yes

Nabilah Nagayi – Yes

Naigaga Mariam – Yes

Moses Nagwomu – Absent

Najjuma Sarah – Yes

Lillian Nakate – No

Nakawunde Sarah – Yes

Nakayenze Connie – Yes

Nalule Sofia – Absent

Florence Namayanja – Yes

John Baptist Nambeshe – Yes

Stella Naume – No

Namuganza Percis – No

Bennie Namugwanya – No

Namujju Cissy – Yes

Grace Namukula Watua – Absent

Jenifer Namuyangu – No

Nandala Mafabi – Yes

Ruth Nankabirwa – No

Rosemary Sseninde – No

Nantaba Aidah – Absent

Veronica Nanyondo – Yes

Nawat Rosemary – No

Nayebarw Sylvia – Absent

Catherine Ndamira – Yes

Alex Ndeezi – No

Charles Ngabirano – No

Boaz Ninsiima – Absent

James Kaberuka – Yes

Wilfred Niwagaba – Yes

Nokrach Wilson – Absent

Nsama Patrick – Yes

Muhammad Nsereko – Yes

Simeo Nsubuga – No

Robert Ntende – Yes

Annet Nyakecho – No

William Nzoghu – Yes

Obaloker Onek Hilary – Absent

Obiga Kania – No

Markson Oboth – Absent

Obua Denis – No

Patrick Ocan – Yes

Ocan Peter – No

Julis Ocen – Yes

Odonga Otto – Absent

Jeje Odong – Absent

Odur Jack – Absent

Odur Jonathan – Yes

Apollo Yeri – Absent

Ali Ogama – Absent

Ogenga Latigo – Absent

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