Report responsibly: Ugandan broadcasters and social media users urged

By Omondi Julius Odera, Kampala, Uganda

As the campaigns for Ugandan general elections are expected to begin in the next few months, Uganda’s Communications Commission has issued a stern warning to broadcasters to ensure impartiality in their reporting or risk being closed.

In a letter addressed to all broadcasters in the country UCC’s executive director engineer Godfrey Mutabazi reminded the broadcasters to adhere to section 31 of UCC Act that demands all media broadcasters to uphold the minimum broadcasting standards and the journalism code of ethics in their broadcasting relating to Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council elections.

He further cautioned them against negative and unprofessional trends like sensationalism and incitement, adding that the airwaves are public property which must be used with a sense of responsibility.

The warning comes as former Prime Minister Patrick Amama Mbambazi decided to mount a challenge for the ruling party’s flag bearer causing frenzy in the media and social media scene with his recent actions of forcefully conducting countrywide consultations. Although his countrywide campaigns were halted, his actions have already sent the country into an electioneering mood and this is seen as one of the reason for regulator’s issuance of caution to broadcasters in order to have a clear modality of covering the campaign period. 

In a related development, the country’s internal security minister, Aronda Nyakairima has also cautioned social media users to uphold restraint and desist from alarming and sensational postings both on twitter and Face book. He advised social media enthusiast to be responsible and avoid exaggerations that may portray the country in bad shape.

He noted that what is posted on social media by some political activists is out of proportion. "When you read what is on social media, you may think that we are about to descend to some kind of genocide.”  He explained that people who are involved in politicking on social media or other platforms should politick according to the electoral law and public management law. Nyakairima is optimistic that the election period will be peaceful and just like in 2011, when Ugandans turned up in large numbers to vote and went home without any case, they intend to do the same in even a better way in 2016.

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