The Commissioner of Information, Dissemination, Monitoring and Inspection in the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology and National Guidance, Moses Watasa, penned an article in one of the dailies about why the main media is still concentrating on reporting of the fallout of the September 13 Arua by-election. He said that the main press should “move on” from that story – to what, where, how and when? That a person of his long-winded title, should even pose such a concern, is both interesting and disturbing.
A number of factors come to mind. The first is his professionalism. If he is attesting to having a media background, then he should know that, the arrest of Bobi Wine and his Member of Parliament colleagues is a running story. This is basic journalism training – that the story is still newsy and fresh; besides there are many other asides to it. In effect, the Arua by-election serves as a flag to peg the stories that seem to be developing from it all the time.
As a news story of importance, any media publisher would tell Watasa that there is considerable commercial value to be gained from it; unless the news media is merely for propaganda purposes only. The issue is not on “negative” reporting, but on uncovering the truth of what took place in Arua. This interests the news consumer.
By urging us to “move on”, Watasa is interested in covering up what may emerge from the deception, his likes, are attempting to load on to the readers, listeners and watchers of the news. What comes to mind immediately are the stories about a woman who witnessed the shooting of Yasin Kawuma, Bobi Wine’s driver; and the revamped comments of the Minister of Security, Gen. Elly Tumwine, on those events, respectivelly. A month later, these stories have emerged. Watasa hopefully realizes the “topicality” of a story. Or, more probably, he would lhave covered-up the embarrassment these would have caused his betters.
There have been countless attempts, to have the likes of Watasa, tell the whole world, who shot Kawuma, to no avail. If we went by Watasa’s logic, even the story of this woman, who was sitting in Bobi Wine’s Toyota Tundra, would not have come out.
Imagine a situation where there were people who wanted to abduct the sick and prostrate MP, Francis Zake, from his hospital bed – and take him where? It obviously means that there is somebody who badly wanted Zake, dead! Else in his condition, he could hardly have taken any more disturbance and punishment, without completely packing up.
Secondly, Watasa even goes to castigate the Western press for “patching up, regurgitating, distorting and disseminating” the Arua by-election story. It is not the main media that is making the story but the people who are the sources of the news – all the NRM Government operatives and their hangers-on. It may be advisable for Watasa to rely more on the social media – since it appears he is more interested in disseminating fake news.
Thirdly, he goes ahead to blame the media for the image this story has given the country globally. Accordingly, he would have refused to “disseminate” the “news-worthiness” of the story that occurred in Boston, in the United States. Here, the mayor of the city, Waltham, Ms. Jeannette McCarthy, attended a peaceful demonstration organized by the 1, 500 Ugandan residents of the city to condemn the acts of State-inspired brigandage of beating MPs, journalists and innocent people. Mark you, one of the journalists badly beaten is, James Akena, working for Reuters, a huge Western media outlet. The Watasa fake news is that Akena was mistaken as a thief!
Watasa should be reminded that, the American McCarthy said; “Ugandans are a very peaceful and hard-working people. What is going on in Uganda is not right. The corruption, beatings, torture and arrest of MPs is not a reflection of the democracy they believe in.”
She went on to add and reiterate that: “Ugandans are a great group of people. They keep telling me to come to Uganda; that it is a very beautiful country, but what is happening is not a reflection of the beauty they are talking about.” As a propagandist, part of these statements would be music to Watasa’s ears. He would have disseminated the beautiful part of Uganda; and left out the brutality – the reality.
Even then, it might have interested Watasa to have attended the function of the skilling campaign in Bushenyi District, hosted by MP Mary Karooro Okurut, and attended by President Yoweri Museveni, in which he is quoted as saying: “It is so [ashaming] to find that in Uganda…there is poverty. We should not be poor with all the resources we have.”
With this in mind, only a week-or-so ago, Watasa should take into account that it has taken the NRM Government, to start the construction of the Kapchorwa-Suam road, there decades from when it was promised.
The answer to this was provided by no less than a virtual political big-wig, the NRM Deputy Secretary General, Richard Todwong, when last week in Gulu he addressed a function reviewing the NRM’s 2016-2021 Manifesto. He said that a cross-examination revealed, “Ineffective service-delivery”. At the same function, the Minister for the Presidency, Esther Mbayo, chose to ” keep burying our heads in the sand thinking everything is okay,” when she blamed the Opposition for overshadowing the “Government’s feats”.
Questions: is it the Opposition, for instance, who promised the Kapchorwa-Suam road construction – that long ago – and did not then deliver? Who should be at the forefront to harness the resources to eradicate poverty? Let Watasa read the Bible book of Matthew 23: 27-28; and answer this truthfully!