Uganda’s legislature at war with the Fourth Estate – Media

January 19, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

By

Gloria Nakiyimba

A war between the legislature and the media in Uganda has taken a new twist as the speaker of the Ugandan parliament Right Hon Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga seeks to control journalists reporting from there.

On Monday Parliament evicted journalists from the office space it had given them to operate as they cover parliamentary plenary and committee sessions.

The withdrawal of office space from parliamentary reporters comes after court issued an injunction against a parliamentary order seeking to stop reporters without a degree from covering parliament proceedings. The injunction was issued last Friday.

Former speaker of parliament, now Uganda’s Vice President, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi offered the office to journalists in the 8th parliament 2006-2011.

The move was intended to ease the work of journalists who would run back and forth between their various media houses and Parliament to file and cover events at the August House.

In a letter dated 18 January, 2016 issued by the Director Communication and Public Affairs Chris Obore, the Sergeant at Arms Ahmed Kagoye has been ordered to close the offices at the north-eastern wing of the parliamentary building.

Mr. Obore in the letter says the decision was made after consulting with the speaker Rebecca Kadaga.

Last week the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association, an umbrella body for parliamentary reporters, instructed their lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde to challenge the latest guidelines issued by the house for accreditation of journalists to cover parliament.

In a letter to editors dated 11 January 2016, signed by Okello Obabaru, Clerk to parliament, the journalist designated by the media house to cover Parliament should demonstrate that he/she has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, Communication or related field and has practiced Journalism for at least three years.

According to the letter seen by Tuck Magazine reporter, the move is taking into consideration the need for a complete, fair, accurate and balanced coverage of parliament and its committees.

Lawyer Ssemakade states that parliament is trying to usurp the powers of the editor.

“Three years experience as a journalist with a degree, does not guarantee balanced reporting. What guarantees fair and accurate reporting is the editorial process. Journalists at parliament may gather the news but what goes out to the public goes through a detailed process which involves a team controlled by the editor. So it is a pity that parliament is trying to do the editor’s job” he pointed out.

The secretary general of the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association Moses Kajangu strongly condemns the move by parliament to throw them out of their office.

He avers that this is an outright abuse of media rights and freedom.

“They have now hurried to close the office, we feel that this is an abuse of the media rights and media freedom. Because of what I know, the next move is going to stop journalists from covering parliament. We are also going to challenge this one in court” he said.

Kajangu expressed concern that the parliament that legislates and passes laws is now disrespecting court orders.

“Court has not decided on anything, they just put an injunction. They would have waited to see what court has decided. Either they would be the winner or we would be the winner. And that is how we were going to resolve our relationship” he noted.

The letter evicting journalists indicates that the office will be closed until the relationship between the parliamentary Journalists and parliaments’ Authority improves.

Many journalists are diploma holders while others posses degrees in journalism and mass communications.

 

 

 

 

Gloria Nakiyimba

Gloria has experience spanning more than five years in Journalism, particularly in field reporting, editing, newscasting and management. She is currently working with Capital Radio Limited [91.3 Capital FM and 96.3 Beat FM] as Head of News, a position she has held since 2010.

Gloria previously worked as the Kampala Correspondent for Radio France International [RFI] generating local story leads with international inference for RFI’s global audience. She also served as Political Editor for The Weekly Mail Newspaper as well as Online Content Editor for the California based Ugandan broadcaster KubutakaRadio.com.

0 Comments

No Comments Yet!

You can be first to comment this post!

Leave a Reply