Kitgum has five radio stations that include Jambo FM, Mighty Fire FM, Peace FM, Pol FM and Tembo FM broadcasting in the districts of Lamwo, Kitgum, Agago, Pader, Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro, parts of Karamoja, parts of Lango and South Sudan.
Opposition candidates in Kitgum are crying foul after reports
that the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party bought off airspace
from all FM stations in the district.
Kitgum has five radio stations that include Jambo FM, Mighty
Fire FM, Peace FM, Pol FM and Tembo FM broadcasting in the districts of Lamwo,
Kitgum, Agago, Pader, Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro, parts of Karamoja, parts of
Lango and South Sudan.
But opposition and independent candidates say that all the
five radio stations have each devoted more than six hours of prime time to the
NRM party every day. They
say that the NRM blocked all the airtime over the last one week, denying access
to other political players.
Charles Ocaya, an independent candidate for the Chua West
parliamentary seat says their efforts to book radio airtime in the morning and
evening peak hours has been unsuccessful.
He says that the NRM party has also influenced the radio
managers not to broadcast campaign adverts and messages from opposition candidates
within the hours they have paid for.
//Cue in; “I have got...
Cue out...lies you see.”//
Luo//Cue in; “NRM guculu...
Cue out...konyo wun.”//
According to Ocaya, this deliberate denial of freedom against
the opposition is not only meant to influence unbalanced media coverage but also
compromises the ability of electorate to make informed decisions.
The NRM district party chairperson Jimmy Ayella George says
that the NRM bought space between January 5 and January 12, to mobilize support
for party candidates ahead of polling day. He, however, says that the radio talk shows were purchased in
consultation with the radio managers after realizing they were not yet sold
//Cue in; “because when we...
Cue out...to other people.”//
Luo //Cue in; “wan macalo NRM...
Cue out...kacamo cawa wa.”//
The NRM District Administrative Secretary Geoffrey Nyero says
that their bookings are exclusive only to disseminate NRM content. According to Nyero, they are under strict instructions from
the party’s national’s secretariat to appropriately utilize the paid media
spaces to rigorously promote their presidential candidate Yoweri Kaguta
Museveni and their flag bearers at different elective positions.
Nyero now advises their opponents in opposition to utilize off
peak hours or opt to use other media platforms that include news coverage,
drama, campaign music and radio adverts to disseminate their messages.
//Cue in; “we have been...
Cue out...not possible.”//
Luo //Cue in; “wan watye...
Cue out...boli wa kwir.”//
However, a station manager at one of the radio stations who preferred
anonymity refuted being influenced by the NRM party not to broadcast paid for
The acting District Chairperson for the Forum for Democratic
(FDC) party Morris Oyoo Santo says that it is unethical for the ruling party to
deprive other candidates of an opportunity to use mass media to reach out to
the electorate especially in the last leg of the campaign.
Oyoo says that the NRM party is now becoming the biggest
obstacle to a free and fair poll process, by taking away the citizens right to
information from other opposition candidates and parties contesting the
elections. He, however, advises other opposition and independent
candidates to consider the usage of mobile public address community road drives
and social media campaigns
to disseminate their manifestos to the electorate.