The government, in partnership with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has put in place a joint security and media committee that will be tasked to harmonize working relations between media and security agencies ahead of the 2021 polls.
In a meeting that was held at Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) headquarters on Tuesday, military agencies and media owners under their umbrella association of NAB discussed ways they can create a better working relationship in a bid to promote democracy and media expression freedom.
The security chiefs that attended the meeting include the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. David Muhoozi, Minister for Internal Affairs Jeje Odongo, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Sabitti Mzeei, Commissioner General of Prisons Johnson Byabashaija, army spokesperson Flavia Byekwaso and Police mouthpiece Fred Enanga.
Speaking shortly after the closed door meeting, Minister of Internal Affairs Odongo said that they had agreed to form a committee that will guide their relations with media in the 2021 elections and beyond.
“We shall be working together with the media and in light of what has already happened, we will now form a committee that will be chaired by the government mouth piece, Ofwono Opondo,” Odongo told journalists.
In his remarks, Ofwono Opondo said that the committee will include one official from the Uganda Communications Commission, 3 officials from the media (1 from TV, 1 from radio and one for online and print media), 1 from the Electoral Commission, 1 from CMI among others.
Opondo urged the media to ensure that fairness and media standards are upheld going into the elections. He however told media owners to block entry to any guest donning red berets which are synonymous with National Unity Platform.
Speaking on behalf of media owners, Kin Kariisa, the NAB chairman and CEO of Next Media Services said that media should be allowed to do its work with little interference.
Kariisa said, “In case there are any mistakes, let them be handled in a civil manner. We want to be stakeholders and not stick-holders.”
Kariisa added that among other issues, they presented instances on security brutality that has seen some of their journalists, such as James Akena, battered while on duty, and the recent case of NUP Sec. Gen. David Rubongoya, who was last week arrested after appearing on NBS Frontline.
Kariisa added thus: “We have now agreed on a framework of engagement, guiding us all on how security and the media will continue to serve our motherland in a bid to deliver a lawful, peaceful, free, and fair 2021 General Election, through this COVID19 period.