Convicted CBS Reporter Fired Without Pay

Ronald Ssembusi, the embattled news reporter with the Mengo based Central Broadcasting Services-CBS radio station, has been sacked a month after resuming work from his sick leave.

Ronald Ssembusi middle helped by friends shortly after he was convicted for defamation at Kalangala magistrate's court in November
Ronald Ssembusi middle helped by friends shortly after he was convicted for defamation at Kalangala magistrate’s court in November

Trouble for Ssembusi started in November this year after Daniel Kikoola, the former Kalangala LC 5 chairperson dragged him to court for defamation.

It came after Ssembusi filed a story, which aired on CBS Radio on November 17th implicating Kikoola in the theft more than 80 solar panels from Muffo meant to power the water plant supplying Kalangala town council.

Kikoola denied the allegations and dragged Ssembusi to court for Criminal Defamation under section 179 and 180 of penal code Act.

He asked court to order Ssembusi to compensate him and offer an apology clearing his name over the theft of the solar panels.

Samuel Twakyire, the Kalangala Grade One Magistrate found the journalist guilty saying that prosecution had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Ssembusi defamed Kikoola merely by the fact that the story was aired on CBS as he reported it.

He therefore fined him UGX 1 million as compensation and costs of the suite. However, Ssembusi has since appealed the ruling in Masaka High court through the Human Rights Network for Journalist Uganda saying the trial magistrate Kenneth Gimungu was biased. High Court is yet to set a date for hearing the appeal.

Last week, Ssembusi, who has been on sick leave, resumed work.

However, his boss Godfrey Male Busulwa, the CBS chief news editor reportedly called him suspending his services. According to Ssembusi, Busulwa accused him of failing to balance stories, which had landed the station in trouble.

Ssembusi said that he is with the station management saying they have not paid him for the stories he filed since December 2012. He says his sacking has greatly affected the well being of his family.

But Godfrey Male Busuulwa, the CBS Chief News Editor says that Ssembusi was suspended for repeating the same mistake, which landed in him in court.

He says that although Ssembusi was recently convicted for criminal defamation, he reported two stories from Kalungu and another from Kalangala with errors.

He says in one of the stories, he quoted people from Lukaya yet he didn’t speak to them. Busuulwa also says Ssembusi reported a story about an NRM function in Kalungu district, in which he misquoted John Chrizestorm Muyingo, the State Minister for Higher Education.

He saysMuyingo complained about the story forcing the management to suspend the reporter. Robert Ssempala, the coordinator Human Rights Network for Journalists says he plans to meet the management of CBS over the matter.