Stifling is defined as, making one feel constrained or oppressed. Other terms for it are: Suffocating, Stagnant, Breathless, Unventilated and Confined. Today, I could say, “The Government of Uganda is stifling the basic survival of its economically active population.”
It is a known fact that jobs are hard to come by in this country and people have been encouraged to seek opportunities through self employment. Never mind the fact that those parroting this talk are belching daily on unfairly spent tax payers money.
As a business owner, for the last 21 years I have always encouraged my staff to set up alternative income generating ventures to insulate themselves from the very unpredictable economic environment we face as a nation. I am sure what I am talking about is best appreciated or understood by those who either are lacking jobs, self employed or have been hit by job loss. For a regular salaried and pensionable person, you could as well take this as a rant of frustration.
The growth of technology especially the internet has helped open up numerous avenues to facilitate multitudes of Ugandans get economically active. What the likes of WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have done to revolutionise the business setup of this economy can never be underestimated. We might have kicked off using social media for gossip but that is no longer the case.
Social media has become a business highway for the many micro entrepreneurs trying to earn in order to fulfil their dreams. Many are buying and selling simple items like shoes, clothes, food, household items, spare parts, among others using social media. Others are selling services like writing articles/blogs, marketing, offering counselling, business support, monitoring, proposal writing, managing payments etc. The list is endless.
The nation might have been faced with a security threat that necessitated some level of drastic actions to avert but not to the extent of shutting down the internet in its entirety like it was done on the 13th of January 2021, a day to the nationwide elections.
You do not seal yourself in a vacuum just because you don’t want to breathe in toxic air. While there was a concern by the powers that be whose priority was regime preservation, it shouldn’t come at the cost of impoverishing the rest of society. Many of us do not earn regular salaries and our income on a daily basis is what makes us exist.
A colleague that I once worked with currently running an online electronics sales platform called me up two days back and his tone was way unlike him. It had this defeatist feel about it and when he told me how the internet shutdown due to elections had grossly affected him, I could feel it. He then asked me what organisations like The Internet Society of Uganda, The ICT Association of Uganda, National Information Technology Authority – Uganda have to say about this.
No sooner had I got off the call, than two others I know shared their frustration of believing in Uganda as their place of choice to chase their dreams of technological revolution. I nearly cried because I have been through this kind of frustration before and seeing it recur is simply a pointer to a gross sad state of affairs.
We are reeling from the effects of Covid-19 that have greatly diminished our incomes. As we mutate with the hope of guaranteeing our survival, those meant to steer the ship called Uganda are simply out of touch with reality. They may be able to comfortably pay school fees for their children anywhere in the world but that doesn’t mean that we all can even pay school fees with ease in local neighbourhood schools. Some people can’t even pay rent, let alone feed families simply because an income of a paltry UGX 20,000/= daily has been put to a halt.
For a fully fledged minister to come up and start threatening Ugandans using Virtual Private Networks (VPN) with arrest is simply a sign of a thought process in limbo. Hon. Peter Ogwang, as the State Minister for the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, you have alot on your hands than run around like Tom chasing Jerry in the cartoon Tom & Jerry.
People simply want to survive, that’s why they use the VPN. Unfortunately some quarters are obsessed with viewing the VPN from political lenses while the majority of us are viewing it with economic lenses. Allow us breathe.
In my mother tongue, Lunyole, we have a saying that loosely translates to; When you press the nose hard enough, it ends up bleeding. Don’t make us bleed. Enough is enough. Allow us fend for our families the best way we can, after all, the responsibility of promoting business growth among the locals has been discarded in preference for foreigners.
Time is usually the best teacher. Repressive moves especially when misguided have a way of bouncing back to the sender. We all need a country that makes us happy and proud of being a part of it.
God Bless Uganda. I Love Uganda. For God and my country.
Technology and Business Consultant
Twitter – @wirejames
Email – lunghabo [at] gmail.com
The Wire Perspective – http://wirejames.com