Monday, September 14, 2009

The media and the Kabak Story- Part 2

The Media and the Kabaka story- Part 2Three radio stations namely Radio Sapientia, Kaboozi Two, Subbi Fm have since been closed for allegedly abusing broadcasting regulations. The CBS license has also been revoked. (According to NTV weekend edition on Sunday 13th September 2009) .Human rights groups have criticized the move saying the radio stations have not been given a fair hearing. Furthermore, the broadcasting council has banned bimeza- local radio talk shows/ live political radio talk shows done in the field usually a bar or social hang-out. I think the government is sending a clear message here, “You are either with us or against us”. The clamp down on the media entities is a ruthless one. And the media is equally confused or scared or undecided on which way to go. Following the arrest and continued detention of Robert Sserumaga a journalist with Radio One FM after appearing on WBS TV weekly political talk show with Peter Kibazo, NTV on Sunday 13th September 2009 ran an opinion forum question calling unto their viewers to comment on how media should cover and report on such issues? -Very interesting if you ask me. Is someone powerful telling them on which path to tread? Are they scared or worried by the happenings across the street? I mean they have seen radio stations closed and talk show panelists arrested by security operatives.
On Friday 11th September 2009, the second day of bloody confrontations between hooligans/agitated youth and the Police/ Military police, NTV gave prominence to the presidential address to NRM Buganda MPs on Thursday night at state house Entebbe. The president highlighted his concerns with the Mengo establishment and their planned visit to kayunga. Lt Gen Museveni said the Kabaka had in the past publicly rejected proposals/ amendments to the land bill and went on to sanction a team/committee led by the fiery Betty Nambooze to sensitise the Buganda peasantry on the proposed land bill amendments. Furthermore, that CBS the official Buganda radio was allegedly promoting sectarianism. All this was in violation of the constitution, he said. We had got the President’s side of the story, Buganda was still quiet or the media was not picking its voice.

On Friday 11th September 2009, late in the evening, a rumour was doing the rounds in Kampala. Apparently the Kabaka’s palaces in Kireka and Banda were being surrounded by military personnel. NTV in their 9:00pm prime news ran a piece of one of their reporters on phone confirming they had been to both the Kabaka’s palaces but didn’t see any military presence. They went ahead to interview some residents neighboring both the Kabaka’s palaces but none could confirm military or police presence in the vicinity. The following day, Saturday 12th September 2009, the Daily Monitor ran a story that three of their senior reporters at about the same time, had been confronted by military operatives at the Kabaka’ s palace in Banda, shoved and forced to take off their shoes. This I found quite conflicting. Who was telling the truth?

The same Daily monitor of Saturday 12th September 2009 ran an editorial calling on the central government and the mengo establishment to resolve their differences amicably and through dialogue. But more interestingly they emphasized the need to separate cultural issues from the political play field. This I find quite naive or they were just being too basic. For our young democracy, not so long ago, cultural leaders wielded a lot of economic and political power. Along came Colonialism but still, the colonialists in alliance with friendly cultural groups, conquered and overpowered other cultural entities in return for political favours, trade and economic opportunities, military equipment etc for the friendly tribes or cultural entities. I mean, just slightly over 50 years ago, we had tribal chiefs and kings that had political power, and to think that our cultural leaders today wouldn’t want to tread the path of their fathers and grand fathers is naive. More particularly, the Kabaka is surrounded by people with strong political ambitions namely- Betty Nambooze, Hon. Lukwago, David Mpaga, Medard Ssegona and until recently Mrs. Joyce Ssebugwawo, to mention but a few. Whether they are sober enough to separate their political ambitions from their cultural sentiments is your call but the Kabaka has a tall order to separate himself from politics. Impossible, if you ask me. Kabaka Mutebi has issues with the proposed amendments to the land bill, proposed Kampala take-over by the central government and Lt. General Museveni’s reluctance to offer Buganda Federo. All these stormy issues are before parliament, the executive and the general electorate which are all key elements of Uganda’s political arena. He has to throw himself in this mix to stand a chance or at least surround himself with some political lieutenants (as he seems to be doing). Soon or later he has to come out openly, take a stand and take a side. May be he has already done exactly that. He hadn’t spoken to Lt. General Museveni Kaguta for two years. That is quite telling.

The Daily Monitor management in the Daily Monitor, Monday, 14th September 2009 page 5, appealed to their readership to avail them with details, names, photos etc of the victims of the city riots known to them. This is very interesting. Because of technological advancement, our media entities will soon be competing with “citizen journalists” in the dissemination of news, information etc. With mobile phones (with access to internet), internet cafes, bloggers, social networking websites like Facebook etc, you have a lot of people willing to post a video or photo of military police clobbering a helpless youth on Face book, You tube etc hours before the Daily Monitor publishes it later on hits the streets. We are not sure they are actually willing to post or publish some of these stories in the fear of angering some people. I read the news of the riots spreading to Ntinda from The Independent blog, and it had been posted by an ordinary mortal. That was just thirty (30) minutes after the chaos had broken out. I guess this was done by mobile phone or a quick visit to a nearby internet cafĂ©. Now our traditional media entities seem to acknowledge they can do better if they embrace these “citizen journalists”. However, the head of the Uganda Broadcasting Council, says they want to have a look at the credentials and qualifications of the staff in our media houses. Soon or later, the government will ban or demand the editing of posts, comments and contributions by ordinary people on stories on newspaper websites, blogs etc. The birth of Uganda’s citizen journalists could be a still one.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Media and the Kabaka Story

The Media and the Kabaka Story.
The battle lines have since been drawn, real battle lines if you like. Unfortunately, the game now involves guns, bullets, stones, spears and all other warfare known to you. Like all other stormy issues in this country ;- corruption scandals, riots in Kampala Central Business district, NSSF mismanagement, election fraud, botched infrastructure projects etc, this will generate a lot of debate and opinion in the public, media and the media will equally have a tall order to report and cover this story. More than ever before, our media is before the jury considering the sensitivity and fragility of tribal issues. The media plays and integral role in our economy, political and social lifestyles at large. It has capacity to make or break any of these, and can form, influence or sway debate and opinion on issues of national concern. CBS FM owned by the Buganda establishment has since been closed for allegedly abusing broadcasting regulations and inciting ethnic tensions. So, for me, in the midst of all this, I will keep my eye on our media houses.
City Beat, a lifestyle magazine of the government owned Vision Group, in their September 2009 issue, ran a list of Uganda’s top 100 celebrities. Guess who was No 1! Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi. They actually even ran a strange photo of his on the cover page. He is dressed in a smart-casual-tight-fitting suit, complete with sun glasses hanging on his forehead. He doesn’t look the Kabaka you know. I remember my fiancĂ© dismissing it as a fabricated/ computer generated photograph at first sight. Whatever they intended to portray with that picture, I will never know. The magazine says it more or less followed the Forbes criterion. They considered the number of hits on media house websites, TV and radio mentions and politicians were not given a chance. That is my number one point of interest. There is an attempt to divorce the Kabaka from politics and that is quite naive. The Kabaka has a strong cabinet structured as any other political organisation complete with portfolios for media, law, youth and women, finance and security all very sensitive and critical components of a political entity. The kingdom has had conferences, discussions and dialogues both internally and externally all geared towards awakening and building political appetite. The Daily Monitor has run all the papers and talks delivered by the reknowned professor Mamdani on the need to build Buganda’s Political ambitions. The Kabakaship has strong political interests running in its veins, why the media wants us to think that the Kingship has no political inclinations we will never know. The 1966 incident was sparked off by political disagreements; the restoration of the Kingdom in 1993 was a political move. Kabaka Muteesa had some political power; Buganda has ambitions to take political leadership in this country. You cannot divorce the Kabaka ship from politics, and I think that is the greatest undoing for Kabaka Mutebi. General Museveni wants Ssabasajja Muwenda Mutebi to be a cultural leader period. Museveni would prefer a Kabaka who only organizes cultural fetes, teaches people cultural and traditional values, attends ceremonial events etc. Kabaka Mutebi wants some political power. Take it or leave.