By Andrew Irumba
The minister for Information Technology and Communications (ICT) Frank Kagyigi Tumwebaze has advised all journalists to only report the truth to avoid getting problems with their regulator UCC and the security organs of the state.
The minister was reacting to the current standoff between the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and several media houses that have since picked a borne with UCC over what they called ‘illegal’ directives when it ordered thirteen media houses to eject 39 senior news managers of their respective houses pending investigations into their conduct.
In an exclusive interview with Spy Uganda’s Andrew Irumba on Sunday, Tumwebaze noted that security could be having more information about the said journalists in regard to security of the state,and that the state can’t look on in the name of protecting the rights of the press; “Where will these journalists practice their Rights when the country gets into anarchy as a result of their inciteful reporting,” Tumwebaze wondered.
He added thus; “My advice to journalists is to stick to the truth and report objectively about their country. Let them not get tempted to be recruited by different interests to act as their activists. That way, they undermine the so called media independence they clamour for and which the NRM government has guaranteed over the years, by looking at the number of radios and TVs government has licensed.”
Tumwebaze added that if the agenda of government was to stifle freedom of speech and expression, then airwaves wouldn’t have been fully liberalized.
The Minister backed UCC’s directives and advised those aggrieved to seek remedy from court. “So let’s all guard jealously the media freedoms we have against all forms of threats including those who want to recruit the media personnel as amplifiers of their political agenda. UCC is implementing the law and nothing else,if you don’t agree, go to court,” he said.
UCC last week gave directives to 13 media houses to suspend over 39 journalists, news editors, program managers, news anchors and producers.
However,separate sources intimated to this reporter that the affected journalists are on security’s 24/7 radar over suspicion that they’re are being funded by foreign powers to work with opposition key figures in their grand plan of toppling NRM government even yesterday. “UCC is only being used because it’s the line agency mandated to deal with the media,but this issue is from security,” a source intimated to this reporter.