Uganda: Museveni, Ministers On Social Media In spite of Ban

President Museveni and half of his 28-member Cabinet possess remained keen on social media despite the federal government’s official ban on the micro-blogging sites.

Fully 10 of them had neither tweeted nor posted anything on Fb by 4pm the day gone by, 27 days after the federal government shut down the Information superhighway and social media on January 11, 2021.

5 elephantine ministers – Legal knowledgeable Overall William Byaruhanga, Adolf Mwesige (Defence), John Byabagambi (Karamoja Affairs), Raphael Magyezi (Native Authorities) and Hilary Onek (Refugees) – could per chance per chance now not be came upon on both Twitter or Fb.

It was once unclear if they exercise a quantity of names or by no scheme subscribed to the platforms.

The government during the communications sector regulator, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), blocked social media citing security reasons while President Museveni accused Fb of being undemocratic.

This adopted Fb’s option in early January 2021 to grab down the accounts of larger than 50 pro-Uganda government campaigners it accused of “Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour”.

Two days sooner than the January 14 ballot, UCC government director Irene Sewankambo ordered telecom companies and Information superhighway provider services to “straight droop any receive entry to, exercise, yell or in another case, of all social media platforms and on-line messaging applications over your network unless additional take into myth”.

The telecoms and Information superhighway provider services acted promptly, blocking off receive entry to to Fb, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, and a quantity of social media sites.

Nonetheless when the federal government restored Information superhighway services on January 18, two days after President Museveni was once declared winner of the presidential elections, many Ugandans began gaining access to social media through virtual private network (VPN).

UCC itself, with out reversing or revising the ban, resurfaced on social media under the quilt of darkness and at 9.48pm on January 20 tweeted that “declare material kind toughen programme – supporting the audio-visual industry in Uganda” in apparent reference to a recent programme.

A one @stephentugu in a rejoinder significant: “It is insane how someone violates their very own deeds.” One other person, the usage of the tackle @rogersKalemera, tweeted that “social media is detached off as per the federal government [ban] a quantity of than these that are the usage of VPN. Nonetheless how is UCC gaining access to Twitter?”

The communications regulator didn’t answer or whisper its receive entry to to the attach.

Our examination of the accounts of Cabinet ministers, three key government entities and that of presidency spokesperson Ofwono Opondo reveals that these users mixed had tweeted and retweeted 823 times.

As well they posted a total of 119 messages on Fb between January 11, when social media was once blocked, to 4pm the day gone by.

On the subject of half of the tweets (359) possess been by the Ministry of Health, the Authorities of Uganda and Uganda Media Centre (UMC), a government communication-clearing residence.

Of the 464 tweets by Cabinet ministers and a quantity of senior government official, 358 possess been by UMC government director Mr Ofwono Opondo on my own.

He didn’t procure or return our repeated calls last evening.

Essentially the most keen minister on twitter within the heart of the detached acquiring social media ban is Frank Tumwebaze of Gender, Labour and Social Pattern adopted by his Works counterpart, Gen Katumba Wamala and newcomer twitter person Elly Tumwine (Security) while ICT Minister Judith Nabakooba, who doubles because the federal government spokesperson, ranks fourth.

Gen Tumwine joined twitter within the heart of the ban, on January 20, 2021, and has since tweeted and retweeted 19 times on security and a quantity of political matters.

We picked on the ministers because they are to blame for the nation’s policy direction and shall be anticipated to manual by instance and follow government ban on social media.

Requested why Cabinet ministers including herself possess been keen on micro-blogging sites in defiance of official ban, and whether or not they possess been navigating their approach through VPN, Ms Nabakooba stated:

“I’m no longer there [on social media].

Somebody else is managing it (my myth). I will handiest receive entry to the Information superhighway after I attain the place of work.”

The shutdown of social media has very a lot affected Ugandans by denying marketing platforms for small trade, deprivation of more cost effective social and family networking as successfully as worldwide communication.

Ms Joan Nabuma, a kiosk owner in Kansanga, a Kampala suburb, stated: “it’s ironic that our leaders in government block us from the usage of issues they are the usage of. You shock how they even rely on us to procure the messages they publish on their social media accounts after we possess been barred from gaining access to them.”

The government director of the Uganda Virus Analysis Institute (UVRI), Prof Pontiano Kaleebu, knowledgeable this newspaper last week that the Information superhighway and social media shutdown affected making an are trying out for, and transmission of, Covid-19 outcomes.

Whereas the East African Affairs Minister Kahinda Otafire is unruffled on Twitter, he has within the course of the social media ban period posted messages on Fb at 22 times.

Quite quite a bit of the messages shared by the ministers and government companies say to their official work or retweets of work initiated by counterparts, which appears calculated to enlarge the attain of knowledge from the federal government to the citizens, most of whom with out receive entry to to VPN remail in knowledge blackhole.

The government has also blocked approved receive entry to to VPN and Youtube, which scheme users in Uganda are for the time being unable to put in the previous on their cell cell phone handsets or receive entry to the latter.

Ministers and government spokespersons possess no longer too prolonged ago shared knowledge in regards to the most unusual acquisition of the 2nd Airbus A330neo last week and publish-election security.

President Museveni, in answer to Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli’s congratulatory messaging, tweeted at 4.48pm on January 18, 2021 replied to thank Mr Magufuli and Tanzanians, promising endured cooperation on trade and politics.

Mr Museveni or his courtier also announced his last Thursday’s take care of, in which he proclaimed return of semi-candidate classes to school on March 1, on his Twitter tackle, suggesting social media exercise has change into unavoidable for presidency and its executives.

Mr Julius Mucunguzi, the head of communication on the Place of job of the Top Minister, declined to whisper how the social media accounts of Top Minister Ruhakana Rugunda possess remained keen despite the ban, referring additional inquiries to the ICT minister.

Train ICT Minister Peter Ogwang, who shall be the usage of social media, on January 21 threatened motion against other folks circumventing the blockade the usage of VPN in a manner suggesting government official are having an exemption under a exhaust-all policy.

The ban also impacts legislation-abiding citizens who paid Over-The-High (OTT) tax, presented in Would possibly per chance 2018, to expertise social media provider while tax avoiders can receive entry to the micro-blogging sites as prolonged as they’ve Information superhighway connection.

Ministers possess been contacted declined to claim whether or not they are the usage of VPN or no longer and whether or not they are playing by a rule a quantity of from that for citizens.

Mr Robert Kirenga, the federal government director of the Nationwide Coalition of Rights Defenders-Uganda (NCHRD), stated the federal government’s motive of cyber web shutdown and refusal to revive social media receive entry to was once no longer justified.

“In in spite of justification they gave, whether it was once national security, there was once a mechanism they’d (possess) dilapidated to be particular that that (peace), after all that they had deployed troops all the draw through… even if I possess been to incite (of us) the usage of cyber web to switch the avenue, which streets would they fade to when government had deployed hundreds of foot troopers?” he stated.

Fb ban

On January 7, Fb shut a slew of accounts belonging to Ugandan government officers accused of seeking to manipulate public debate ahead of elections.

“This month, we removed a network of accounts and pages in Uganda that engaged in CIB (Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour) to target public debate ahead of the election,” Fb’s head of communication for sub-Saharan Africa, Kezia Anim-Addo, stated in an electronic mail.

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