A group of journalists has petitioned their umbrella body, the Uganda Journalists Association over its forthcoming elections.
The UJA executive committee recently released a roadmap in which it set December 12, 2020 as the date for the election of the new body leadership.
However, in a petition delivered on Friday, Abubaker Lubowa, Culton Scovia Nakamya and Becky Cynthia Nakimera says due to the 2021 presidential campaigns that are kicking off on Monday until January, many journalists will not be able to take part in their umbrella body’s activities.
They want the UJA election postponed until the country’s general elections are done.
“At the same time, presidential, parliamentary and Local Government elections are expected to kick off November 9, 2020. This is a national exercise where the fourth estate is expected give wide coverage because the roadmap is short and therefore expected to be intense for journalists,” the group says in the petition.
“We believe the above-mentioned political atmosphere in the country will not only leave out many journalists from full participation but will deny them a right to be part of their own elections.”
The group says the move to have UJA elections next month will not only disenfranchise many journalists and also violate their right to participate in the body’s activities including elections.
In the petition, the group says it was wrong for the UJA executive to increase fees to shs30,000 for renewing membership and shs50,000 for new members to the journalists’ body as a prerequisite for participating in the elections.
“It must have come to your attention that up to now, many journalists receive half-pay due to effects of Covid-19. Therefore, increasing subscription fees is going to disenfranchise many especially upcountry journalists,” the petition says.
The group also challenges the increment of the nomination fees for presidential aspirants, vice president and other posts to shs400,000, shs200,000 and shs100,000 respectively.
“This is an abnormal fee and intended to lock out potential candidates given the financial constraints many journalists are going through due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The group now wants the committee to reverse its decisions in regards the forthcoming UJA elections, noting they might be forced to run to court for redress.
“National elections are a great concern to everyone and media plays a vital role. We demand that UJA elections be postponed until national elections at presidential and parliamentary level are concluded by the Electoral Commission,” the petition recommends.
“All stakeholders including members, aspirants and opinion leaders must be involved in further decisions regarding this electoral process. Subscription fees and nomination fees should be determined by members of the association through a general assembly.”