Uganda on Strike

Following the re-election of President Yoweri Museveni in February, Uganda attracted worldwide attention for the opposition-led “Walk to Work” protests, which gave voice to (at least some) people’s anger over rising costs of living. Walk to Work faded, but last week Ugandan traders closed their shops to protest high prices, and this week taxi drivers are striking over high fees for parking. Inflation is still a problem for Ugandans, and their anger is still a problem for Museveni.

Here’s Uganda’s New Vision on the traders’ strike:

Minister of trade Amelia Kyambadde and her counterpart of finance Maria Kiwanuka [appeared Friday] before Parliament to explain what remedies they have for a crisis sparked off by biting inflation and high import taxes.

This followed a two-day paralyzing traders strike in Kampala flickered by the high taxes and inflation, which forced Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to summon the duo to explain what remedies they have for the crisis.

This was after MPs last week demanded an explanation that was scheduled to be made by the two ministers on Thursday, but both eluded the sitting, to the chagrin of the House.

…and Reuters on the taxi drivers:

Ugandan taxi drivers kept their cars off the streets on Monday to protest high parking fees, paralysing transport in the capital and adding to a rash of strikes and protests in the east African nation.

Stranded commuters were forced to hop on motorcycle taxis, which quickly hiked their fares amid crushing demand, while tens of thousands of others walked miles to work in the capital Kampala.

The taxi drivers were protesting exorbitant parking fees charged by Utoda, a government-contracted private company that manages the city’s transport system, said leaders of the drivers’ association.

Some of the traders’ grievances, it should be noted, have to do with the presence of Indian and Chinese businessmen in Uganda. Angry citizens, then, may direct their anger not only upward, at politicians, but also outward, at their neighbors and competitors. In either case pressure will increase for the government to take action on inflation.

One thought on “Uganda on Strike

  1. I read a good line that Uganda is “extremely united and divided.” The last five months alone have swung between minor and concentrated protests. Besigye’s announcement not to run in the next election may have taken some wind out of his sail, and an Arab Spring-inspired uprising was unlikely. However Uganda could experience this low-level instability throughout Museveni’s five-year term, both politically and economically. Museveni has used his success in Somalia to buttress himself domestically and internationally, but that equation might eventually reverse itself.

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