Nankabirwa to Mediate Speaker, Journalist's Row

2012 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Joseph Sabiiti, the vice president Uganda Parliamentary Press Association UPPA asked parliament to face facts, saying the rules committee of parliament has no mandate to try journalists.

The Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa has offered to mediate in the conflict between parliament and journalists over what Kadaga describes as negative publicity

Last week, Parliament led by the speaker, Rebecca Kadaga attacked the media for allegedly carrying inaccurate stories with intention of portraying parliament negatively.

Kadaga particularly expressed anger over recent stories in the media, which exposed the expenditure on the legislators' trip to the United States of America to attend the Uganda North American Association (UNAA) Convention.

It emerged that Parliament spent over two billion shillings to facilitate the Speaker and her deputy as well as 78 other legislators to attend UNAA Convention in Boston. This and the proposal by parliament to give each of the 441 MPs 200 million shillings to buy vehicles have dominated public discussion.  

The Speaker directed the Rules, Discipline and Privileges Committee of parliament to look into the possibility of suing media houses that reported the story for contempt of parliament. The move drew angry protests from the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association, which accused parliament of attempting to gag the media by trying to influence what it can and can't publish.

This morning, the Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa convened a meeting with parliamentary reporters, where she promised to reach Kadaga to resolve the conflict amicably.

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It came after some of the journalists castigated proposals by parliament to force them to take oath before they are accredited. Daily Monitor's Solomon Arinaitwe said that Parliament should always go to court as and when the institution feels aggrieved by media coverage, arguing that arraigning journalists before the Rules Committee offends the principles of natural justice.

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Isaac Imaka, the President of Uganda Parliamentary Press Association said, "There is need for MPs to understand how the media works for them to appreciate why we choose the angles we choose. It's not true that every time we write about parliament someone is paying the journalists, so there can never be an invisible hand."

Joseph Sabiiti, the vice president Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA) asked parliament to face facts, saying the rules committee of parliament has no mandate to try journalists.

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Jude Bukenya, a journalist with Radio One said the proposal to arraign journalists before the rules committee of parliament is absurd. He instead advised parliament to engage journalists on the contested stories.

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About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.