The decision to label journalists pro-Mbabazi sympathizers is aimed at sending fear amongst media practitioners, the Human Rights Journalists Network-HRJN has warned. Robert Sempala, the coordinator Human Rights Journalists Network says the move is also aimed at cracking down on critical media so as to deny the public from getting dissenting views in the mainstream media.
This comes days after some sections of the media published a list of 100 journalists believed to be working with Mbabazi to boost his 2016 election bid. It was alleged that the journalists earn between 2.5 to 5 million shillings to ensure they promote the image of the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi. However, most of the implicated journalists have dismissed the list as forgery and disassociated themselves from the Mbabazi election campaign team.
Robert Sempala, the coordinator Human Rights Network for journalists has every media practitioner to stand firm and speak against any attempts to label them. He tasks government and its agents to come out and allay journalists’ fears as to the safety of their career and the media industry in Uganda. Ssempala says the allegations comes at a critical moment ahead of 2016 when all views must be given a fair platform for the public to make informed decisions as to who should be their next leader.
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Catherine Anite, the legal counsel HRNJ emphasizes the need from professionalism amongst journalists despite the fact that they are among the least paid people in the country. 80 percent of journalists according to HRNJ are freelancers who earn peanuts.
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According to Ssempala most of the journalists’ they have spoken to have vehemently denied being inclined to any political camp while some are surprised that their names could make it on such a list, which has horrible political implications. Some journalists believe that their names were copied and pasted from sign in books in Parliament or at the Media Centre.
Speaking to Uganda Radio network, Charles Kazooba who is top on the list as a media organizer and mobiliser denies the allegations saying no journalist has received any money from the premier.
Kazooba, the head of Africa news group says the list is the work of some idle minds within the intelligence community that want to drag the media into the disagreements between President Yoweri Museveni and the Prime Minister. Adding that, it’s away for the operatives to gain operation allowances.