High fuel prices underpin Uganda protests, test Museveni government
Two months after Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's decisive election victory, high fuel costs are prompting Ugandans to take to the streets, writes Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire.
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“When food prices go up, yes people in towns suffer. But farmers are very happy," said Museveni. "Farmers are wondering what Besigye is talking about. That prices have gone up is good for them.”Skip to next paragraph
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Museveni, who is preparing a huge banquet for African leaders to attend his swearing-in ceremony on May 12, didn’t see any problem with food prices. His reaction shows he is still stuck in 1986. Most of us in urban centers are sons and daughters of farmers he claims are benefiting from the current situation.
Most Ugandans I know who live in cities strive amid unemployment and high prices to send money back to villages where the farmers live.
If you want to know this, visit a local mobile money transfer agent. People are sending as little as 5,000 Ugandan shillings ($2) back to their relatives who depend on them for healthcare, school fees, etc. The dependence rate is so high in Uganda that Museveni cannot deceive us that the problems of those living in the urban centers do not relate to those of a farmer.
I am a daughter of farmers who are interested in my well being, but even the money they earn from a farm is not enough for them to send a part to their daughter in Kampala and also cater for their needs. What affects those living in urban areas – especially the unemployed youth – affects the farmer, too.
With unemployment levels going up and Museveni’s government more interested in amassing wealth, the discontent will continue.
One journalist friend who covered last week’s protests told me some youth were yelling to opposition members: “Don’t even ask us to walk, give us guns.”
This kind of desperation must be turned into something positive and we hope the opposition will continue to cultivate the spirit of non-violent protests, which is very much lacking in our nation's history. It’s only through well-organized, non-violent actions that Ugandans will learn to stand up to their rulers.
I doubt Museveni can imprison all three opposition leaders although there are early indications that he may prefer more treason charges for Besigye, in particular.
Whatever Museveni chooses to do with the leaders of Walk to Work campaign, so much has changed since the election and the challenges facing urban dwellers will be a thorn in the side of the president for the next five years as long the opposition can continue to wisely choose issues that affect ordinary Ugandans and rally the masses.
--- Rosebell Kagumire is a Ugandan independent journalist who blogs at Rosebell's Blog.
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