By Lucy Chelangat
In 2015, there was a shift in the media. Mainstream outlets began plastering General Kale Kayihura’s face on their front pages whenever there was anything negative to do with police. If there was anything positive about them or the General, it did not garner any mainstream media attention, no matter how hard the Police tried. For instance, Kayihura founded Afripol, an African Interpol with beautiful headquarters based in Algeria, or the dozens of new apartment units for police housing, or the founding of the Iran-Uganda Medical Center to benefit police, and so much more. All of which happened within the last four years.
On Wednesday, 11 July, Ugandans protested the social media tax with Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine at the forefront, decked in the new opposition red and a black beret reminiscent of the Black Panther movement in the United States. Police dispersed the crowds using tear gas, as they did when Kayihura was IGP, a common method employed the world over. They also fired live ammunition into the air.
I was patiently waiting for Okoth Ochola’s face to appear in the mainstream media of New Vision, The Daily Monitor, Red Pepper, Bukedde and The Observer. But there was nothing. Most shocking of all in these outlets that usually love to report negatively about the police, nothing about the teargas or the bullets in the air. At least not in the pages that matter.
Yet, the news of the protests appeared on many international outlets including Reuters, CNN, US News, CBS news, and South Africa’s The Times.
Unlike Kayihura’s last few years, Ochola’s face was not the headline on Thursday, or Friday and will never be the headline throughout his tenure. I say this because it is clear that the media was gunning not for the Police, but for one person, Kayihura. Ochola’s tenure will be free of scrutiny, and the scrutiny of the police will be blamed squarely on individuals and not on Ochola himself, as it should be.
Okoth Ochola has been part of the Police all his life, and never has he once complained about the benefits he had been reaping all his life, until it suited him to do so. What pieces is he picking up, except the ones he was complicit in long before Kayihura entered the Police?
The mainstream news media has been bought by the same people pinning Kayihura for a crime he obviously never committed.
These same people with tons of money to dish out are using Ochola as a pawn for whatever plans they have for this country, because of his weak character. They are also using the media to paint a rosy picture of their pawn and a monstrous one of their enemy, Kayihura. But what does this say about the media who choose money over nuance and truth? What does this say about our country’s priorities?
No matter how this Government fiasco ends, the truth about Kayihura, and the mafia behind his destruction will soon be revealed. How will the mainstream media explain themselves after the truth is out? Will they claim to have been misled? Or will the threads of their corruption unravel as well, and we see that even journalism, is filled with the same types of crooked people we abhor in Government.
Lucy Chelangat is a Public Health researcher, currently based in Mbale, Uganda. You can reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org