Archive for December, 2013


‘With or without Media’s permission, parliament has a right to form a forum on media, media is not a member of the forum, it is only represented by the forum’ says Hon. Ssemujju Nganda.

The Parliamentary Forum on the Media, launched by the Speaker of the House, Rebecca Kadaga, on 7th Nov, it is composed of 35 MPforums and in association with members of the Uganda Parliament Press Association and the Uganda Journalists Association (UJA).

Parliament has not been sleeping about the media laws. We have enacted a number of laws in defense of the media; such as, the Access to Information Act was a private members initiative by Hon Abdu Katuntu, which was taken over by the government. We are ready to do more,” Ms Kadaga said.

Uganda Journalists Association came up with the idea starting up the Parliamentary forum on media, with the GIZ a German donor, they asked Uganda Parliamentary Press Association if we can come on board.

With UPPA’s agreement to come on board, they then carried out the recruitment of MPs’ who they wanted to come on board and spearhead the forum, after the launch of the forum on 7th of November, the MPs’ are now in the process of voting for their ideal board members.

The Steering committee is holding elections on which MP is to take what place on the forum’s board, journalists (UPPA and UJA) want donors to come out with secretariat body which will include journalists to help in decision-making and supply MPs’ with the needs of media.

The MPs’, many of them former journalists or politicians engaged in the media reform debate, will be available to listen to the concerns of the media industry and to advocate for change on the floor of Parliament.

The forum’s membership is strictly for MPs’ with different positions like chairperson, V.C all taken up by MP’s, the chair of the Parliamentary Forum on media is Hon.Nalubega Mariam Woman MP Butambala, Hon Bayigga Michael is Vice Chairperson of the forum.

Each forum in parliament for example the Parliamentary forum on youth and children has a budget allocation from parliament, and also can have funders giving donations in form of funds who are interested in helping or pushing the agenda of the forum. This will also apply to the parliamentary forum on Media.

The role of the forum is to represent Media and freedom of speech, expression. The forum would also be used to discuss other material concerns of journalists like poor pay and better job treatment and working conditions.

 

‘It would be a good idea, if the forum is to advocate for the interests of journalists and media at large and amend the bad laws affecting journalists like the Terrorism Act,’ says Ssebayiga a Journalist who has covered parliament for the last 12 years

However, the role played by parliamentary Forum on media are covered under the different laws in Uganda for Example the Press and Journalists Act, Article 41 of the constitution, Uganda communications Act all protect journalists.

On top of the media laws, there are bodies like the Ugandan Human Rights Watch for journalists, Uganda Journalists Union etc all fight for Media Rights.

The parliamentary forum on media which is made up of MPs’ will not only give journalists a direct hand at influencing the parliament decisions on laws affecting the media, the contradictory issue in the consist of journalists.

The bigger question is, with a forum that is made up of MP’s on it’s board, meaning that decision-making is in the hands of the MP’s, same goes for accountability of the different funds that will be given to the forum whether donor money of budget allocation by parliament itself.

‘It is a scheme by MPs’ to make money off journalists, many of the MPs’ will be traveling abroad to attend conferences about journalists, to make matters worse they forum is working with members of Uganda journalists Association whose term is about to expire who also have a tinted image’ says Isaac Imaaka a Daily Monitor Journalist

It is the duty of Ugandan parliament press association is to hold MPs’ accountable to society and play the watch do role, with the parliamentary forum on media, it is a comprise for journalists and the kind of stories they will write, it is very difficult for a journalist to be balanced in writing a story on MPs who are fighting and working hand in hand with helping journalists.

The creation of  this media forum posses a threat to the journalists ethics, it also questions the code of conduct of some of the journalists who will be covering parliament more so the UPPA journalists.

In conclusion, the parliamentary forum on media has many of the journalists conflicted on it’s idea, a question on whether the forum was introduced on selfish gains for politicians and the top members of the Uganda journalists association and Uganda parliamentary press association, or the general question by many of the Ugandans on how media and different journalists associations are not united

 

 

Advertisements

The first time I was hearing the term, ‘munyago’. In my little brain, the term did not make sense.

During a discussion in the Parliamentary newsroom, it a fairly large room equipped with desktop computers, Internet, all provided for by Parliament of Uganda.

However some journalists carry their own laptops.

The conversation,  whose content kept bouncing back and forth but the common denominator was the term Munyago, many of the parliamentary reporters joking and laughing their heads off about who gets the hugest ‘Munyago, and which MP provides the particular Munyago’..

Munyago is a luganda briberyslang, Luganda is on of the many languages spoken in Uganda, The term was introduced to parliament by Honorable Ssekikubo, one of the Rebel’ MP’s during the famous oil debate.

The term Munyago in Luganda means ‘ to grab something’, like grab something that is not initially yours but once you take it, you own it’ the member of parliament .

Honorable Ssekikubo used the term to refer to the public theft of government funds and luck of transparence in the oil sector.

Munyago ‘ was then born as the latest slang among the Parliamentary Reporters.

The life of many of the Parliament journalists and I can say many of the journalists in Uganda is fiction material, in regard to journalism ethics, but if one attempted to write it as a novel, the result would be preposterously unbelievable.

It is all but impossible, to find a neutral voice when it comes to some journalism practitioners, the easy with which the parliament reporters speak about Munyago, was a rude awakening to, and a realization the journalism do not survive the corruption in Uganda.

My only questions are ‘ where the hell, did professionalism go? Where did ethics go, conscience?

Ohh well I guess they went with the poverty level and poor pay of journalists by media houses.

Many of the press briefs, conferences that reporters attend, and their content is not really headline materials or blockbuster story.

The workshops that journalists attend and UGX100, 000 is handed out to each as transport refund and allowances for a conference is just a corrupter of the young.

You know like Kelly Rowland’s song,’ Baby I maybe you motivation’ Or for some that had parents giving you candy just to make you sleep or do whatever the parents want.

The MP’s also use is a ‘little red bull’ to boast the journalists morale to write their story and if possible write it from their angle.

Various youth functions and press briefs, the journalist are given transport refund, that many call ‘munyago.

What is more ridiculous is that there is no distance traveled or costs incurred, considering that the press brief room is only two floors ahead and there is an elevator for those that cannot take the stairs.

Not all journalists take this money that is signed for but most do take it.

A friend made an argument, that since the money is already signed for, and in the hands of whoever is holding the function, it is okay to take it and give to either street children or give it to charity.

For if it remained n the hands of the MP’s, they would still pocket it.

I do not know what you think, but for just a splint second, I actually thought it was a good idea, like ‘Good Corruption’.

At some point I think the public needs to know that the disease has widely spread, it’s the new cancer.

This is not only leverage for the government on the journalists because you sign for the money given, but also an assurance that many of the journalists are no different from them.

Some of the press briefs journalists go for, the incentives given is only food, or drinks.

My highlight of the ‘Munyago’ was during the chaos on the Public Order Management Bill

The opposition in their press brief gave out sodas to reporters.

That same day, the government/NRM in their press brief, gave out sodas and 20,000 to the journalists that attended the press conference.

So there is a  ‘Munyago’ competition between the opposition and the NRM, about who is voted the best ‘Munyago giver’ like many of the reporters say.

The bribe is also a campaign tool to many of the politicians, because if they are covered by all the radio stations and television stations, that is boasting their candidature, for the voters will listen to their ‘honorable saying something and feel represented, hence a second term at parliament. Uganda’s latest self-importance syndrome

About the quest for the truth in an unspecified, ye important institution like parliament, there is a long way to go!

I will catch you later folks, for now I can say a prayer for corruption in my country, FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY.