In mid-April, Uganda’s armed forces and the media fraternity held a soccer match themed, “A new era of working relations with journalists.”
This event was an apparent effort by the military to ease tensions following what had become a never-ending series of savage clashes between security personnel and journalists.
Unfortunately, hardly two weeks later, on 28th April, another episode occurred when two TV reporters were brutalised by the military police while covering a protest in Kayunga.
How’s that for a new ‘error’ of working relations! If the earlier match had been any consolation though, well, at least the newsmen had for once thumped the Generals!
Winning a soccer game is obviously trivial compared to the significance of achieving a moral victory against the prevailing reign of terror.
If the supposed essence of the match was to make amends between the two sides, there shouldn’t have been an additional incident happening that soon. Unless of course the April event was merely a PR stunt.
Luckily, the fame of it didn’t last and couldn’t in the least conceal what is widely known to be this nation’s deeply-ingrained totalitarian and oppressive system; where security operatives are generally the face of human rights violations, the administration of justice is rotten to the core, the politicians are mostly self-serving and desperately corrupt, and the citizens are languishing somewhere at the bottom of the food chain.
Fundamentally, a free press functions as a force that monitors events and processes in order to ensure that the individuals that have been placed into positions of leadership are using their authority for the benefit of the ordinary people.
So, basically, the journalists are the public’s eyes and ears on the ground.
Any form of attack on the media can therefore be viewed as an attempt to intimidate and gag the practitioners, effectively destroying the ecosystem of a democratic society by obstructing the flow of information to the citizens; of which information is important for making decisions—decisions such as whom they’ll vote as their next leader.
As a fresh political term takes effect and the newly-elect get sworn into office, it’s a bit difficult to imagine that with the current trend there will be a sudden paradigm shift; least of all, that these leaders will actually take their oaths seriously and promote the welfare of their people.
In an already battered economy, the average Ugandan is struggling to recover from the blight that the response to the corona virus pandemic brought upon their livelihood.
This did not, for example, stop the honorable Members of Parliament from approving an additional tax levy on fuel and the internet, further heaping an awesome burden on the ordinary citizen.
These same MPs are some of the most highly paid on the continent. With their massive salaries and ever-swelling allowances, the legislators are clearly detached and cushioned from the miseries of the people they purport to represent.
Quoting from Proverbs 29:2, Prophet Elvis Mbonye warned the politicians in May 2020, saying, “Uganda will turn out to be a reflection of either the righteous being in authority, in which the people rejoice, or the wicked bearing rule, in which case the people moan!”
The status quo appears to suggest the obvious. However, it remains up to the incoming leaders to choose whether during their term of service to the people of Uganda, they’ll be fondly known as righteous or, like some of their predecessors, be blacklisted as wicked.