Opposition Politicians Exploit Trader’s Plight for Political Gain, Fueling Conflict with URA

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Despite traders having genuine concerns over the allegedly unfair tax regime and the newly introduced Electronic Fiscal Invoicing Solution (EFRIS) system, there seems to be a high level of political influence from opposition politicians that has escalated the misunderstanding between traders and the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), which has pushed traders into an unnecessary sit-down strike.

Key political players influencing traders include the leader of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Katonga faction, Dr. Kizza Besigye, and the head of the National Unity Platform (NUP), Robert Kyagulanyi, who have held secret meetings with certain leaders of traders and offered funds to them for facilitation during the strike.

The two opposition figures infamous for advocating for the use of defiance and unlawful means to cause regime change seem to have seen a blessing in the traders’ plight, and their actions suggest that they are inciting traders to start a strike that will eventually spark a mass uprising that could result in regime change.

According to a source close to the FDC Katonga, on April 15, 2024, party leaders who include Ambassador Waswa Bigirwa, Harold Kaija, Nuwagaba, and Besigye held a secret meeting after the press conference and tasked one Nuwagaba to mobilize their supporters in the central business district to partake in the strike.

During the same press conference held at FDC’s office on Katonga Road, Besigye went on to implore the traders not to be involved in any talks with the government or the president that could result in an amicable solution, urging that the only way is to continue with the strike until the entire ‘Museveni system’ collapses.

On his side, Robert Kyagulanyi publically exhibited solidarity with the striking traders and encouraged them to soldier on until the “unfair taxes” were reversed in a video post he made on the social media app X. However, a member of the Federation of Uganda Traders Associations (FUTA) recently revealed that their association leader, John Kabanda, received a huge sum of money from Kyagulanyi to influence traders involved in the sit-down strike.

On the contrary, several members of the business community in Kampala have decried harassment from association leaders who are coercing them into the strike despite their divergent views. According to these traders, even though they’re also concerned about taxes and the EFRIS system, their leaders should be focusing on talks with the authorities to reach amicable solutions rather than pushing them into strikes that are resulting in double losses.

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