Parliament Summons Editors Over Negative Media Reports
By Prisca Wanyenya
The plans hatched by Legislators to summon and grill editors of various media houses has reached its final stages with just days left for the two warring sides to face off.
The Legislators of the 10th Parliament accuse journalists and their editors of producing what they termed false publications geared towards tainting their names before voters.
According to a highly placed source sitting at the Committee On Rules, Privileges And Discipline where the Editors are to appear soon, the Editors will be tasked to explain why they have continuously produced false reports with impunity.
Summons against Editors of Red Pepper, Observer, Uganda Radio Network, New Vision and National Broadcasters have already been issued and the team according to the Committee’s schedule was ordered to appear next week.
Headed by Kalaki County Clement Kenneth Ongalo Obote and deputized by Abbas Agaba from Kitagwenda County, the group wants to sort out the mess before MPs sign off for recess.
The summoning of the media heads follows an outcry made by Speaker of Parliament on September 15th 2016, where she was joined by other MPs to lash out at journalists for malicing them.
The Editors are bound to face off with 27 members on this Committee among which include UPDF Representative to Parliament, Maj. Gen Pecos Kutesa, Prof. Ogenga Latigo, former Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo of Bufumbira County East.
It should be recalled that in a two hour attack on the media fraternity during plenary session, the legislators took to the floor of Parliament making threats and throwing jab at members of the fourth estate.
The embittered Speaker Rebecca Kadaga opened the jab throwing debate raising concerns over what she termed unbalanced reporting from media citing Red Pepper, Daily Monitor and Observer.
The verbal artillery followed reports that Parliament was planning to spend Shs67M on each MP’s burial, a report Kadaga deemed obscene.
The Speaker carried on with her ranting Kadaga citing out Radio One presenters who referred MPs as wizards and night dancers.
She went ahead and threatened to summon the Editors and journalists to appear before the Rules, Discipline and Privileges Committee to explain why they keep on ridiculing Parliament with negative reporting.
The other negative reports MPs cited out were reports that MPs had met with President Yoweri Museveni and the two sides agreed to increase the monies for the cars from Shs150M to Shs200M.
FDC’s Jack Wamai of Mbale Municipality cursed journalists for turning MPs against voters revealing the issue of cars hasn’t gone down well with Ugandans.
He explained; “MPs are being given old junks that are polluting the atmosphere in the country. Why can’t Parliament provide new vehicles instead of people shouting we are getting money?”
Kadaga backed Wamanga putting media to task to publish prices of cars of other Government officials, instead of concentrating on only MPs.
“I challenge media to publish the cost of new cars for Ministers, Judiciary,” an infuriated Kadaga was quoted fuming back then.
The Legislators asked Parliament to investigate and get to the bottom of the matter arguing that the media are being paid off to malice Parliament.
The MPs alluded to the fact that the recent the recent negative reporting was a campaign of malice, well organised and funded.
During the debate, the controversial Aruu County Odonga Otto told off Ugandans that they have no right to complain about the money to be spent on MPs’ burials saying it is the voters to eat the money, not the corpses.
He went ahead telling Parliament to cripple media houses financially by continuously dragging them to court over defamatory publications.
“That money will not be eaten by dead MP but the people who are alive. So what is the problem? I think they (Parliament Communication Department) should not sleep. For any wrong article, go to court, let them pay. Some people think if you speak against Media. Don’t give them space,” Otto said.
Kadaga sided with Otto stating; “Let us take them to court until they are financially collapsed.”
When our Reporter contacted Obote to confirm the reports and how far the plans have gone, he wasn’t returning our phone calls.