KIRUNDA DAN: Social media and fake news now target Uganda’s entrepreneurs

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Last night I was struck by an article that shows the hideous ugly face of unrefined power of the media if left to all and sundry. The situation has been growing in the last decade or so to staggering heights and I can see why the government of Uganda has kept Facebook one of the leading social medial platforms in Uganda in abeyance. This fast-growing trend of negativity and “pull him down syndrome” often becomes self-defeating when abused with impunity.

The swearing of the president of Uganda went on almost without a glitch and left the naysayers with hands on cheeks. There was a respectable number of heads of state and many high-level dignitaries to represent their respective heads of governments. Whilst that was going ahead without any rain, in fact the sun began to shine for the first time in a few days, and low and behold we expect rain everyday hereafter for the rest of the week.

Some idle social media online platforms were having a field day sharing some leaked information about one the local Tycoons as they called him being under pressure to repay a loan of $10 million to South African money lender. What struck me was the tone and ability to carefully craft an article that would paint the local tycoon as a villain and even pass judgement on a matter that is before the courts of law finding the tycoon guilty and that his empire should be befittingly destroyed. Why are Ugandans so Unpatriotic and shortsighted? Do they truly know the facts surrounding this complex case? Does this lender create any jobs for their brothers and sisters? Do they see any taxes paid by any of these flies by night money lenders often based out of Mauritius specifically to avoid and evade
taxes? The dollar coupon rate for such mezzanine loans is often around 10 percent per annum. How could a 5-year loan runaway to $30 million and leave a smile on the writer of such an article.

In south Africa Julius Malema is giving the politicians and public a hard time to explain away the injustices and inequalities of income that are a glaring manifestation of the ugly face of extreme unchecked capitalism so akin to apartheid that he is demanding change on behalf of the ordinary south Africans.

One of the roles of government is to redistribute income in an equitable way by taxing the rich and building roads, hospitals, schools, a reliable police force, and a trusted Judiciary. If a company lends 10m and demands 30m then they have made a $20m fairly or unfairly a capital gain and should be subject to a 30% tax contribution less any tax acceptable cost. That is approximately $6million assuming everything else was agreeable. In this case many were not. One party went court to seek redress on a point of disagreement.

So, for anyone with access to smart phone simply writing away about a complex matter that could so easily touch on the lives of many Ugandans without any thought or consideration, usurping the rights and privileged of a judge of the high court, just because he could earn $100 dollar for publishing such articles is reckless and unwarranted.

Free press is a very good thing for any growing society and the journalist that have a respectable following should use the position with the level of care and responsibility it deserves. Social media can be a great catalyst for change but beware the change you demand for. This raw power of social media could easily and unnecessarily destroy the reputation of one of our best business leaders. One that has been here before and shown resilience and always come out stronger, creating more jobs, paying more taxes, and reaching out to a tremendous number of youths by way of inspiration and mentoring. The acceptable face of capitalism in Uganda. Let Generals handle matters in the battlefields, and let judges handle matters in the courts of law.

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The writer, is a freelance journalist

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