Ugandans using WhatsApp will pay daily tax to the government
Ugandans who use the internet messaging service WhatsApp will be charged a daily tax of 200 shillings ($0.05; £0.04) after parliament approved a controversial new law on Wednesday.
It comes into force on 1 July, and will also apply to other social media apps like Facebook.
Mobile money transactions will also be taxed, with a 1% levy on the total value of each transaction.
President Yoweri Museveni was quoted in Ugandan media last month as saying social media platforms are used “mainly for gossip”.
Human rights activists disagree. “It’s part of a wider attempt to curtail freedoms of expression,” blogger Rosebell Kagumire told Reuters.
At least three MPs have criticised the new rules as “double taxation”, according to the privately-owned Daily Monitor newspaper.
Kyaddondo East MP Robert Kyaggulanyi, aka Bobi Wine – as well as Joshua Anywarach and Silas Aogon – said that because users access WhatsApp through taxed airtime, an additional tax would infringe their rights.
Another MP, Patrick Nsamba of the ruling party, said the tax will hurt the poorest most:
It is very easy for an MP to say that 1% is little money, but to people who earn less than a dollar a day, it is going to break their backs.”