In a campaign that was scientific—characterized by smaller crowds, broadcast media was a target for all political actors. Though it’s those with money who could buy space. And given that most radios in Uganda are owned by politicians of the ruling party, opposition parties reported being denied access to media space with no explanation.
The National Resistance Movement
(NRM) spent more than 3 billion Uganda shilling buying media space during the campaign
Emmanuel Dombo, the party director of
Communication told Uganda Radio Network (URN) that although the total for media spent is more than 3 billion Uganda shillings, they still have
some outstanding debts they are yet to clear. The
party bought prime space for its presidential candidate, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
who was always on radios and TVs every evening between 7-9 PM.
//Cue in; “I would know…
Cue out…was basically
In a campaign that was scientific—characterized
by smaller crowds, broadcast media was a target for all political actors. Though
it’s those with money who could buy space. And given that most radios in Uganda
are owned by politicians of the ruling party, opposition parties reported being
denied access to media space with no explanation.
A few incidents: KRC radio in Fort
Portal was switched
on December 20th 2020 under unclear circumstances after
hosting independent presidential candidate Joseph Kabuleta.
On November 17th 2020, a local
radio station in Agago District was switched
off on orders of the district police commander while presidential
candidate Patrick Oboi Amuriat of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) was
speaking to the electorate.
National Unity Platform (NUP)’s presidential candidate, Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi
aka Bobi Wine forced
out of Spice FM in Hoima
, three minutes into the show on November 27th
2020. The party reported other similar incidents of being denied media space.
According to Dr. Peter Mwesige of Africa Center for Media Excellence (ACME) the media failed the impartiality test during campaigns. “The media’s job was to ensure that everybody
who wanted to access media space for paid programming was allowed to do so, not
to just have one person dominate screens,” he said in an interview last month.
outlets, he said were supposed to flag paid-for content. “The reader, viewer or
listener would know that this is paid for clearly by the ruling party, by
the opposition party. That was not always the case. For media outlets that reached
the extent of selling their news slots to politicians, it was wrong," said Mwesige.
who did that (news slots) crossed the line. They could have still made money
without selling their souls,” he argued.
were many other players who bought media space or had privileged media access to
amplify ruling party message during the campaigns season. For instance, several
Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) officials were hosted on Capital Gang during
the campaign period. And the last
Capital Gang show before January 14th election
was hosted at in Gulu at the 4th UPDF Division Headquarters by
Gen. Salim Saleh, the OWC Commander.
ended up co-hosting the show. “If you haven’t landed in Gen. Saleh’s ambush,
count yourself lucky for you haven’t met a major setback to all your initial
preparations,” a write-up on the OWC website about the show reads. “This
happened when the host of Capital FM’s popular political show – The Capital
Gang who came prepared to fire questions towards Gen. Salim Saleh, but ended up
co-hosting the show with him to fire the questions that were prepared for him
towards other gangstas.”
Panellists on the show included Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. David Muhoozi, Andrew
Sorowen- the AIGP Uganda Police, Andrew Mwenda and Ofwono Opondo. Others
were officials from National Planning Authority, Microfinance Support Centre
and Uganda Coffee Development Authority.
Kiconco Tabaro, the spokesperson of OWC said they did not buy capital gang
space during the election campaign period. “OWC
never bought space as you may think but OWC participated in a discussion about it.”
to how the show ended up in Gulu, he said, “a media house can be anywhere. I think
there is nothing wrong with discussing OWC broadly not at Saleh’s home, it was in
Gulu barracks. It was an open discussion for everyone to participate in,” Ronald
Muhereza, Capital FM’s head of advertising and marketing told URN they cannot “disclose