The announcement by the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change party [FDC] that her supporters should boycott the services of the countries leading communications company MTN is long overdue.
I might be wrong but wait a minute. When will modern businesses learn to reconcile their interests with the country's governance needs.
For business to thrive, there must be good governance. Unfortunately, most businesses especially in Africa, start on criminality or outright thuggery if you care. The businesses are not bothered by the national interests but they care about narrow political interests of those in power. Granted. Deals are cut with politicians for businesses to move on but isnt it foolhardy for any shrewed business to surbodinate its long term interests to the shorterm demands of the parochial political class?
MTN arrived in Uganda and got massive goodwill because its competitor, the late Celtel tuned Zain and now baptised Airtel attacked the virgin Ugandan market with aura but smarked arrogance. They charged at least Shs1million for a bulky Ericsson handset. Celtel was damn expensive. They never cared to listen to the client. Then MTN made entry. Opened up access to moblier phone services. Tired of Celtel arrogance, the Ugandans embraced MTN and that is how it gained the giant status it now brags of. That was then. Slowly, MTN has been a thuggish firm; reaping off Ugandans with expensive call rates. It offered annoying services with its ntework usually on and off. They cheat clients of their hard earned money.
Then stories emerged of poor governance. The managers engaged in sex orgies with the beautiful young girls they employed. Some of bosses broke marriage by grabbing wives.
When Ugandans were about to take note of this South African firm, it hatched a mega plan: compromise the media. MTN should be in our records for making jouirnalism in Uganda die. It began by compromising individual journalists then the media houses through advertising.
Ugandans continued to whisper about something being terrifically wrong with MTN. Then stories of alliance with the ruling NRM politicians emerged. Either by accident or design, MTN chose Yellow colour which is the official colour for the ruling party. In Uganda, there is no difference between MTN functions and those of the ruling party; at least going by the paralephalia .
Although the MTN continued to broadcast its achievements, Ugandans continued to murmur. The political connection between MTN and the ruling party, became apparent during situations when the Opposition engaged the ruling party. For instance, during the violent demonstrations againts the planned give-away of Mabira Forest by President Museveni to the ever greedy Madhvani Family, the MTN network was cut off. THis was to disable communication by the rioters. Then during the Buganda riots that erupted after the Kabaka was blocked from going to Kayunga, the MTN network was again cut-off. Even if Ugandans had not taken the MTN connection with the government seriously, this time, they had gotten live evidence.
Whenever there is a political engagement between the Opposition and the NRM government, the first network to get off is MTN. Is this by coincidence? How come the network that boasts of being the giant, is usually the first to get off whenever there is a small demonstration. Your guess is as good as mind.
Fast foward. When the FDC says their supporters should boycott the company. I agree with them. First because its an arrogant but inefficient company that cheats with impunity just like the ruling NRM party. Secondly, MTN has never made its ownership open to Ugandans. Who are its local shareholders and how much shareholding do they have? How did MTN chose to work with those individuals?
Thirdly, local Ugandans associated with MTN are criminal capitalists who got money through robbing the state. By joning MTN, they simply wanted to clean their dirty money. Any Ugandan , who, therefore, cares about the lack of drugs in hospitals, low pay for teachers, potholes etc, should give their money on MTN with care. The company hobnobs with people who have stolen state resources with impunty thus denying citizens the basic social services. If the MTN can sabotage FDC activities yet the party supporters equally buy its airtime; isnt it about time that MTN deals only with NRM supporters?
THis boycott should also extend to other companies who have chosen to serve the interests of the political class at the expense of the citizenry. All yee sober Ugandans, simply dump the arrogant and cheaty South African firm.