UBOS called out for using illegal means for census publicity

Editor's Choice
UBOS called out for using illegal means for census publicity
UBOS chief Chris Mukiza

Ubos gives local governments Shs5 million each but keeps the national pie too far from broadcasters

The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) is using illegal equipment to rally the masses for the Six National Population Census.

Ubos, on April 29, wrote to local governments urging them to "prioritise the use of local radio towers and community mobile announcers" contrary to the Uganda Communications Commission ban on outdoor community broadcasting using makeshift equipment commonly known as 'bizindalo' or megaphones.

Ubos made its pitch after doling out Shs5 million to each district and city to facilitate publicity for the census at the lower level.

The population and demographic survey staticians said it has been undertaking census publicity at the national and lower level using the available media channels that include TV, radio, newspapers, workshops, online and social media.

"As we commence the final publicity drive, the Bureau has provided Shs5 million to each district and city to facilitate the running up of the publicity campaign at the local level that the different communities and leadership have been undertaking," Ubos said in a memo signed by Mr Godfrey Nabongo on behalf of its executive director.

The Uganda Communications Act 2013, to which UCC is the custodian, prohibits the provision of communications services without a licence.

The illegal activities come on the eve of the national census with Ubos going all-out to dine with local governments while expecting national broadcasters give it unfettered airtime.

In essence, institution tasked with the national population and demographic surveys is demanding the broadcasters use own resources to produce much more than they are paying for at the lower level.

This has left major broadcasters lost for words as Ubos, wheeled by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), continues to arm-twist the broadcasters into pro-bono publicity.

With threats of invoking operational licence dangled here and sanctions there, broadcasters say they are being pushed against the wallet to drain their already scarce resources and fund the census publicity.

On Wednesday, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) stood up to UCC following the Commission's directive to broadcast a message promoting the National Population and Housing Census, citing a lack of budgetary provisions.

NAB Chairman Innocent Nahabwe said expecting media houses to comply with such directives without appropriate budgetary provisions sets a worrying precedent.

"Media organisations operate as commercial entities, paying licensing fees to the UCC, taxes, and facing financial obligations such as staff salaries and operational expenses," he said.

Nahabwe noted that deliberate budgeting for national initiatives such as the census should be undertaken, similar to other adequately budgeted programmes.

UCC executive director Nyombi Thembo on Thursday revved up on threats and sanctions but NAB reached a compromise to only air the President's message, with the broadcasters tasking Ubos to book them on time using resources at its disposal.

That Ubos has the budget to meet its publicity is not in doubt. It has already given out at least a billion shilling to local governments.

Yet the agency has no index finger to pinch a pie of the funding cake for major broadcasters. It expects these commercial franchises to yawn into their own studios to inform and educate a populace that is running wild with misconceptions that the census is "being used by the government to find out how many goats and ducks we own so that they tax us".

The inverted idea exhibited by Ubos is unfortunate as the agency is okay paying local governments to "lobby for participation in different radio talk show programmes especially those available to the offices of the RDCs".

Yes, the government has never been the best of partners with the media but Ubos would still do better than go out to facilitate mobility of district publicity committee members and the coordinator use the media.

The national census is not an annual event. And Ubos had enough time to plan how to get the vital demographic data to inform decision-making.

If that plan entailed sidelining a crucial partner like the national media, then there are too many thorns and frowns for the media. This, unfortunately, is one of the ways the government continues to suffocate the media.

Reader's Comments

LATEST STORIES

Speaker insists she is not the owner of Flat 4 in London's Silk House
top-stories By Jacobs Seaman Odongo
36 minutes ago
Speaker insists she is not the owner of Flat 4 in London's Silk House
Govt tasked to clarify on early campaigns
top-stories By Ramson Muhairwe
1 hour ago
Govt tasked to clarify on early campaigns
Museveni demands Speaker Among explains UK house ownership
top-stories By Jacobs Seaman Odongo
1 hour ago
Museveni demands Speaker Among explains UK house ownership
Over 300 girls in Busoga get menstrual hygiene skills, tools
uncategorized By Kenneth Kazibwe
3 hours ago
Over 300 girls in Busoga get menstrual hygiene skills, tools
URA, Judiciary talk taxation
news By Pedson Mumbere
4 hours ago
URA, Judiciary talk taxation

99% of households counted - UBOS
top-stories By Samuel Muhimba
4 hours ago
99% of households counted - UBOS
Barcelona appoint Flick as new boss
sports By Nile Post Editor
5 hours ago
Barcelona appoint Flick as new boss
Cameroon replace coach Brys after Eto'o argument
sports By Nile Post Editor
5 hours ago
Cameroon replace coach Brys after Eto'o argument