Uganda becoming a dangerous place for journalists, and preside
By DICTA ASIIMWE
IN THE PAST TWO MONTHS, journalists in Uganda have been arrested, beaten and had their equipment destroyed. Media and democracy experts are forecasting harder times ahead as senior government officials intensify their criticism of the media.
Covering the numerous mysterious killings and the continuous crackdown against political opponents, and their own corresponding negative portrayal at home and internationally by the government has made journalism dangerous in Uganda.
President Yoweri Museveni last week accused journalists of politicising their work instead of reporting truth and facts. He accused the media of giving a “blackout” to news of his launching of factories, the fact that Uganda is producing excess electricity from the Karuma, Bujagali and Isimba dams, and the fact that the country has finally reached the takeoff economic stage. He accused the media of preferring fake news.
Robert Sempala, the national co-ordinator for Human Rights Network for Journalists in Uganda fears that the president’s utterances may embolden security and government officials to go harder at journalists.
“The president forgets that as the commander-in-chief he wields a lot of power over security forces eager to please him,” he said.
The Foreign Correspondents Association of Uganda said in a statement on September 12 that at least 10 applications by journalists seeking accreditation to report from Uganda had been rejected.
Ofwono Opondo, the executive director of the Uganda Media Centre said the government just changed the process of accreditation, and now it involves background checks on foreign journalists to weed out spies.
But Mr Opondo later told an online publication that foreign journalists often reported pro-opposition stories and so there was no need to accredit people producing “false news.’’
“Besides, accreditation is the prerogative of the host government. Foreign journalists cannot force the Uganda government to give them or anybody else visa, accreditation or work permit,” he tweeted.
In addition to refusing to accredit foreign journalists, the government also deported an American and a Canadian, accusing them of being media strategists for Kyadondo East Member of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine.
Mr Opondo says Jacqueline Wolfson, an American who was operating a charity, was deported for working in Uganda on a tourist visa. Ms Wolfson had earlier been accused of funding Mr Kyagulanyi’s activities and contracting Canadian communication specialist Anne Whitehead.
Ms Whitehead, who is accused of