Opinion | “Journalists Working With Opposition Parties Are Partisan” Kayihura   By Arthur M. M. Katabalwa

Posted October 16, 2015 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Opinion ~ 3,737 views


Chief of The Ugandan Inspector General Of Police General Kale Kayihura has warned Ugandan NBS and NTV televisions against embedding journalists with the opposition as according to him this is not good journalism. This was at a press conference he was giving last night at the police headquarters in Naguru where he warned the main Ugandan opposition party, The Forum For Democratic Change (FDC) against their planned political activities which are intended to start (15/10/2015)..I wonder who gives the IGP such advice. Mr. Kayihura holds an MA in Law from The London School Of Economics one of the most prestigious universities in the world and he should know that such an assertion is fundamentally flawed.

Modern journalism requires that reporters be at sources of potential news stories nearly all the time.As the situation stands, there is a lot of legal confusion regarding the electoral process. The main players need to have their stories out in the public as they happen. His argument last night was that he was suspecting that these media houses were being partisan in their reporting which is against that law in Uganda.To their credit, the two televisions have steadfastly reported what has been happening. The recent arrest of an FDC activist where she was allegedly undressed by the police was captured in all its gruesome detail by an NTV crew who were travelling with the convoy. If this crew was not about to record what happened, the story could have been contested.kaihura22Journalists have always been embedded with armies and other political entities. The US Army while it invaded Afghanistan and Iraq had several news organizations embedded with them. And these journalists were able to document what was happening at the war front. CNN especially was criticized for reporting the war in a style that the west wanted to view the war. There is an argument that Al Jazeera was borne out of this practice to balance the way the wars were being reported. Even then, Al Jazeera has gone to great lengths to make sure that it fronts news reporters and anchors who are well known in the west.

We are having a police force which is fast losing its credibility as an impartial force. The public and other civil society organizations have started taking it on and holding it into account. This force has come from a rag tag force which was poorly trained, demoralized and frankly not fit for purpose. To his credit, when the present IGP took over, he made sure that the force was well equipped, well trained and professional. The problem however was that the line between a civilian police force, which is committed to community policing and a pseudo paramilitary was blurred.

If one looks at the way the police is fitted out, one can argue that its thinking in policing is compromised by the way they present themselves. If one is given combat fatigues albeit in blue and asked to walk around with a formidable assault rifle in the AK47 makes them think that they are in the army. The only difference is that the army wears green camouflage.

By the IGP wadding into the way the media operates and accuses it of being partisan also opens him to the same accusation. For the start, why is the top police officer of the country calling for a press conference at night in his office to comment in strong terms, whether the law is on his side, about political activities? Isn’t their someone bellow his rank who can take on such a task? I can hardly envisage a situation where the top British Police officer Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe would call the media to his offices at Scotland Yard to warn the British Labor Party against some political activity in Skegness.

We are having a police force which is teetering on the brink of being accused of very serious crimes. The two main armed forces in Uganda at the moment are at different poles on professionalism. The Uganda peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) are smelling like mint these days as they are not putting a foot wrong. When we had the death of General Aronda Nyakairima, the UPDF withstood all the conspiracy theories with professional public messages. Their main spokesperson Paddy Ankunda handled the media so well that these theories almost disappeared as soon as they surfaced. Look at Fred Enanga the police spokesman. He holds a poisoned chalice in that even when he is actually right, no one believes him.

I think the Uganda Police Force should look at their counterparts in the UPDF and learn how things are done. Statements like that from the IGP just go to reinforce what the public thinks that this is a force which is working at the bidding of the ruling regime. Journalists will always go where the story takes them not where the government wants to take them. Even then, it is not unheard of that certain media houses will have a particular political leaning. Certainly one cannot think of The Newvision as impartial or the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation. I wait to see when Amama Mbabazi or Kiza Besigye are given an extensive interview on wither platforms. I am want to believe that we will wait until hell freezes over to see that happen.

Journalists will always be embedded where they need to be. The Pope travels with a huge entourage of them. Certainly they are not all white male Catholics. The US President also travels with them, And they are all not liberal urban Democrats. He has Right wing journalists as well. So for the IGP to make such a statement, I think his media handlers (if he has any) need to up their game. And to my friends in government, it should dawn on them that the conduct of the Uganda Police Forces at the moment is making them hemorrhage votes really fast. Someone needs to get a grip on the situation and make sure that the force is not seen as partisan.

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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