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Kadaga Moves to Mend Fences With Media

In what appears to be a softening tone after the recent attacks on the media, Kadaga has likened the relationship between Parliament and the media to two pumpkins that are near each other and they continue to collide sometimes. This collision is not because they are enemies.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has called for a healthy working relationship with the media.

In what appears to be a softening tone after the recent attacks on the media, Kadaga has likened the relationship between Parliament and the media to two pumpkins that are near each other and they continue to collide sometimes. This collision is not because they are enemies.

At a breakfast meeting with various editors at Hotel Africana today, Kadaga called on the media to give parliament credit where its due and criticize when necessary.

Returning to the stories of September 2016, the Ugandan North American Association (UNAA) trip for Members of Parliament (MPs), the vehicles and the money for burial of a member, Kadaga says the media behaved as though they were taken over by a mafia group.

Kadaga charged, "You are behaving unprofessionally. You have been taken over by mafias."

She said some media houses, like New Vision hide stories about her in the inside pages, usually days after the event has taken place.

She outlined some of the work the 10th Parliament has done including recovery of billions of shillings in Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) money that had been kept on fixed deposit accounts for four years.

Commissioner Cecilia Ogwal added that, "Patriotism is not taught. We all need to know. I can't punch Museveni. We disagree but I know he is my president. You must be mindful of the fact that whatever affects Parliament affects the media. We are like identical twins."

Ogwal said that, " If you don't defend us who will defend you. I hope the media will this time give us a Christmas package. All of you had conspired to switch off Parliament. We are with you and ready to work with you...today and tomorrow."

Charles Odoobo Bichachi, the managing editor of Daily Monitor told Kadaga that journalists strive to report objectively at all times and that when they go wrong, they are quick to make corrections.

Maurice Mugisha, the News Manager at NTV told the speaker that the media is there to do its work, not to public relations for news makers.

This meeting comes two months after the Speaker ordered the rules committee to summon editors from The Observer, Uganda Radio Network, Daily Monitor, The New Vision and The Red Pepper over what MPs called biased reporting. While The New Vision editor in chief, Barbara Kaija, appeared before the rules committee, the other editors declined the invitation arguing that summoning the media was outside the functions of parliament.

The alleged negative coverage related to delegations sent by parliament to attend the Uganda North American Association (UNAA), where it was reported that up to 78 MPs were sponsored by the House to attend the event in the USA. The speaker today insisted that Parliament sponsored only 27 MPs, noting that the media did not make corrections even after she had told them.

The other stories of contention related to the purchase of new cars for Legislators, something she says was blown out of proportion. She noted today that there is nothing new in buying cars for MPs since ministers, permanent secretaries and commissioners get new cars every five years.

On the issue of budgeting for funerals of Members of Parliament, one of those that created friction between the media and legislators, Kadaga said it was normal. "If no one dies, the money will not be spent," she said.

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