Monitor Closure A Threat To All Media - Wafula Ogutu

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In short
The closure of Monitor publications is a threat to the lives of its owners and workers at all levels, former managing director Wafula Oguttu says.

The closure of Monitor publications is a threat to the lives of its owners and workers at all levels, former managing director Wafula Oguttu says.

As one of the founders 20 years ago, Oguttu, now a Member of Parliament recalls that they toiled throughout their young life with no pay to work for The Monitor, as it was called then. This was with hope that it would be an institution that would outlive all of them and allow others to run it.

However, Oguttu notes that this closure literally means the government is threatening their lives and their families. He explains that it is unfortunate that government is going against the Daily Monitor not for committing a crime but for accumulated crimes.

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Wafula also recalls that their troubles with government started in their first year of existence when government removed its advertisement from the paper for five years from 1993 to 1997. In 2002 government again closed the media house for eight days for publishing a story about a military helicopter that had allegedly been shot down by the rebels in Northern Uganda. In 2005, KFM, a sister station was closed after one of its talk show hosts alleged that government had killed Sudan vice president John Garang. In the latest closure a week ago, the radio station together with its Luganda sister station, Dembe FM, were again switched off.
Oguttu condemns these actions by government without taking into consideration the business aspect for the company which he describes as malice aforethought to destroy the organization.

According to MP Oguttu, when the newspaper was set up, they vowed to be resilient, balanced, fair, sticking to the truth non-partisan and non-sectarian. But in the course of maintaining those values, he acknowledges that they have stepped on the toes of those who are committing crimes against Ugandans.

The Daily Monitor was also used as a platform for the return to multi-party system which made government to box the paper into a corner of opposition.

Other founders included Charles Onyango Obbo, David Ouma Balikowa, Jimmy Serugo, Kevin Aliro, Richard Tebere and Teddy Seezi Cheeye.

Wafula also agrees that with the crackdown on the media has forced media houses into self-censorship.

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He urges government to reconsider its position saying they are violating the law since they have failed to respect the court order asking police to remove their officers from the Namuwongo-based media house.

He concludes that this move is to scare all media houses with warnings against writing about the President’s family, the army which consist of his son Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba and his brother Gen Salim Saleh, and the corruption allegations against his family.

Isaac Imaka, a staff reporter working for the Daily Monitor at Parliament, says the closure has clogged his thinking since he had lined up interviews to cover subjects such as NSSF and Oil.

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