By Andrew Irumba
Mbuya, Kampala: This Tuesday morning, media owners under their umbrella Organization, National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) met with the top leadership of all Uganda’s security organs at CMI Headquarters in Mbuya, a Kampala surbab.
NAB team was led by Chairman Kin Kariisa, also CEO Next Media Services, and aimed at creating a cordial and respectful working relationship between the media and the security apparatus.
The Security chiefs included the Chief of Defence forces (CDF) Gen David Muhoozi, Commissioner General (CGP) of prisons, Dr. Johnson Omuhunde Rwashote Byabashaija, Director General External Security Organizations (DG ESO), Director General Internal Security Organizations (DG ISO), AIGP Sabiti Muzei, DCI/ UPF, DCI UPDF, Uganda Police Spokesperson CP Fred Enanga, UPDF Spokesperson Brig. Flavia Nalweyiso, who were led by the Internal Affairs Minister Gen Jeje Odong, among others.
NAB raised issues of concern to the security chiefs including safety of the journalists during their line of duty, interruption of the media while doing their work as the fourth estate, disruption of business by RDC at upcountry stations and sometimes, poor flow of information from the agencies through the media among others.
The Security chiefs retaliated the need for media to ensure it’s not used to destroy the security and stability of the country. They also promised to work with the media on resolving any issues that might arise.
The meeting shared views candidly, and resulted in the creation of a tentative joint working committee headed by the government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo. The committee which will be sitting weekly, will be charged with improving the relationship between the security and the media and ensure continued flow of information to the public and balanced news coverage while minding security and stability of the country. The electoral commission and UCC will also be represented on the committee as well.
UCC recently announced they were going to start enforcing the communications guidelines of 2019, which have since been availed to all media houses seeking for renewal of broadcast licenses.
It is hoped that NAB will step up its self-regulation role, to minimize friction between the national regulator (UCC), security forces and the media practitioners.
The first committee engagement is expected next week, according to NAB’s secretary General Joseph Beyanga.
Internal affairs ministry promised to escalate the issue of the absence of the Media Tribunal to the executive to allow for easy arbitration and resolution of media issues.
Journalists have previously been clobbered by men in security uniforms while carrying out their lawful mandate of information gathering. More important to note is that security personnel had turned media houses a hunting ground for arrests of Gov’t critics.