DEFIANCE! MPs Face Empty Seats As Editors Snub Parliamentary Summons
By Alex Masereka
Ugandan lawmakers were Wednesday taken aback after editors of four leading media houses in Uganda defied summons by a parliamentary committee to appear before it to discuss what lawmakers call “unbalanced coverage of the legislature”.
Privately owned Red Pepper, Daily Monitor, Uganda Radio Network and The Observer were invited to appear before the committee on rules, privileges and discipline to explain what MPs term as “unbalanced reporting” about the legislature..
However, The New Vision, partly owned by the state, is the only media house that sent representatives to the hearing.
Barbara Kaija, the editor-in-chief of New Vision and John Kakande, a news editor, are currently meeting the MPs.
The summonses were prompted by complaints from Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and other MPs, which spilled onto the floor of parliament during a heated plenary session on September 15.
The legislators were irked by media coverage about their perks, notably the Shs 150m car grant, the Shs 68m burial expenses per MP, and the trips to the Ugandan North American Association (UNAA) convention in Boston.
During the session, Kadaga proposed that errant editors be summoned before parliament’s committee on rules, privileges and discipline. Within the committee, there has been debate as to whether the members have the mandate to summon editors given that their core duty relates to fellow MPs.