Journalists Disagree over Museveni Pledge to Independent Media Association

1917 Views Kampala, Uganda
Journalists in Kampala are divided about a 150-million shillings pledge made by President Yoweri Museveni to the Uganda Journalists Association.
The pledge to the journalists association was made during a World Press Freedom Day function on Sunday night. President Museveni said the money would offset costs of running the association.
Commenting on the pledge during the celebrations, Daniel Kalinaki, Managing Editor of Daily Monitor, said the President's pledge would compromise the independence of the media. He said that with good organization the media practitioners could fund their own associations so that they can concentrate on checking government excesses.
As Kalinaki spoke, several journalists clapped their hands and stamped their feet in agreement.
President Museveni responded angrily to this submission. He accused the journalists of attempting to promote western interests and asked them where they expected to get alternative funding.
The Uganda Journalists Association did not reject the pledge from President Museveni and its executive thanked him for it.
President Museveni said he is in full support of a free media, but that the freedom must be backed by responsibility and discipline. He said that although he doubts the patriotism of journalists in Uganda, he will continue to dialogue with them.
World Press Freedom Day is held on May 3rd every year.
Members of the South Western Uganda Journalists Association met in Fort Portal town to commemorate the occasion.
The chief guest, Raphael Magezi the Secretary General of Uganda Local Government Association, challenged journalists to do more to provide a check to government's actions. He said that although the media had done a lot to expose corruption in the country and to speak out on evils like child sacrifice, there is still more it can do to contribute to the development of Uganda.
Magezi noted that the country needs a vibrant media to mobilize communities to grow.
To support the work of journalists in the region, four million shillings was raised for the establishment of an information center in which media practitioners can conduct research, have access to the internet and debate issues of the day. Money for the information center was raised by each journalist contributing 50,000 shillings. Additional support came from the Uganda Local Government Association.