The Deputy Inspector General of Police (IGP), Major General Tumusiime Katsigazi, has warned Ugandans against protesting against soaring commodity prices.
The warning came after threats circulated on social media from strangers announcing that Kampala city will be closed from today until Wednesday amid high cost of living protests.
“No one has the ability to lock down a city like Kampala other than the Ugandan government and if anyone comes forward and prevents people from getting into the city in some way we will arrest them,” Major General Katsigazi said over the weekend.
There has been a sharp increase in commodity prices over the past three months following the increase in fuel prices. At press time, a liter of fuel was trading at Shs 6,500 across the city.
The same liter trades at Shs 7,000 in most remote parts of the country, down from Shs 3,600 in February.
The majority of Ugandans say the government has not done enough to tackle high commodity prices and they now see protests as the last resort.
However, in Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta launched a new round of fuel subsidies this month in a bid to prevent a rise in prices at the pump.
Major General Katsigazi said while peaceful protest is a constitutional right, messages circulating on social media point to a rather violent protest, which poses a threat to security.
“They are scaring people for nothing and we would like to assure them that we are not sleeping and we are always in control because these evil elements want to disrupt people’s business. We are investigating the source of this information and we will arrest anyone behind these threats,” he said.
Asked why the government is not addressing the current economic challenges, Major General Katsigazi said the government was doing everything it could to deal with the crisis.
Addressing the nation last week, President Museveni offered no solution to the current tough economic times, saying government interventions by cutting subsidies would mislead people to continue consuming without saving. commodities, thus plunging the country into trouble.
“Me as a rebel, when I see this situation and I say, we have to migrate to something else, not slump… Because when we slump, people will continue to buy more and more. You’re going to create artificial comfort for people to think things are normal when they’re not and you’re doing it bleeding yourself,” Museveni was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Two weeks ago, police arrested dozens of people in Jinja district who had taken to the streets to demonstrate against rising food and fuel prices in the country.
The government has been fairly consistent in stating that fuel subsidies – popular with their counterparts in the Great Lakes region – may not be an economically rational response.
In the context of the fiscal year 2022/2023 budget document, the Ministry of Finance stated that: “For 37 non-oil exporting countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, higher oil and gas prices will lead to a significant decline in terms of trade. shock, which will deteriorate trade balances, increase transport and the cost of living, and deteriorate fiscal balances, especially for those benefiting from fuel subsidies.
Uganda is among these 37 oil-consuming countries and its Treasury Secretary, Mr. Ramathan Ggoobi, has made it clear that even a consumer backlash against inflation will not force them to “interfere with international oil prices”. oil”.
Rising fuel prices also pushed up commodity prices.