By Kempala docs spy eye.
THE STORY STARTS WITH SOME OPEN LETTERS THAT HAVE DROPPED IN PRESIDENT YOWERI MUSEVEN SHELVES AT STATE HOUSE,ONE OF THEM HERE BELOW. “I would like to use this chance to thank the government’s effort in trying to control the spread of Covid-19 at a time Uganda has 45 confirmed cases, by the time of writing this. There will surely be more cases. Government has put in place many measures to flatten the Covid-19 spread, so to speak. These include the partial lockdown, including the ban on private and public transport. These measures are in good faith and we appreciate; life first despite some of the early forgivable mistakes as admitted by Your Excellency in your last address.
A number of private vehicles belonging to just “connected ones” are being spot on roads yet the would be imperative service providers especially media cannot even dare a step by the road side. How do these people get the permission if media can’t get??
Your Excellency, Ministry of Health officials, the UPDF police, and other security agencies have done a tremendous job by serving the populace and informing them in a timely manner about new Covid-19 cases and the steps government has taken to avert the spread of the pandemic that has engulfed the entire globe, leaving thousands dead. In its efforts, the government sent out messages and directives using media platforms that people find dependable and reliable; these include the mainstream media, and social media. Indeed Your Excellency, you even acknowledged the media as a critical group in this period.
Journalists have soldiered through the wee hours of the night to ensure that whatever the health ministry and other government officers communicate reaches the public in a timely manner even if it’s as late as midnight. Indeed, all previous messages have reached the public because of the formidable teams of journalists, producers, camera persons, and technicians, among others, who spend long hours in various newsrooms to ensure seamless transmission. I can’t leave out the drivers that drop us and pick us from the field.
Mr President you categorized the media among essential groups that include the army, police, medical workers, URA, National Water. Mr. President you said, “Media people are essential people like Umeme” and said that the Works Ministry and other authorities will work out ways under which these categories will operate.
A day later, the ministry of works and transport and Security designed a measure where all people in the above categories are supposed to move with stickers. This also came with challenges which were later fixed.
Several stories about the brutality of the forces on the people, have been told and aired. Most of the footage comes from the public. Journalists have hardly gone on the roads to see what happens when dusk sets during the curfew that starts at 7pm. Maybe they would tell balanced stories on what really happens out there in the night!
On Thursday 2nd April 2020, the security ministry came up with other measures, key among them – JOURNALISTS ARE NOT CONSIDERED ESSENTIAL PEOPLE BEYOND 7PM. With due respect, Security Minister Gen. Elly Tumwine who has greatly contributed to the liberation of this country, missed the irony when he made the above bold statement through media platforms offered to him. To make it worse, the press conference was held towards 4pm and went on until 5pm.
This means every journalist, never mind where they live; could be as far as Kisubi and other areas, needed to produce TV and radio stories, write for the newspapers in less than one hour, excluding the time taken to reach their desks, and then leave.
This means whoever did not watch the live presser, would miss out on that important message. In the fight against this deadly virus, government needs the media more than ever. This is because, the information I have is that many people have not yet fully understood the measures the government put out to stop this pandemic.
When you subject the journalists to sleeping in newsrooms and then call them for press briefing the next day, it is not fair at all. It would be understandable if you had nothing to say to the public. Majority of the people have heeded to the government’s directive and are staying home. They however, need to know what is happening and the progress made in fighting Covid-19. Indeed since they are at home, they consume the media even more and therefore, get all the government messages
Such harsh measures against the media is another away of gagging the media since stories do not come from the newsrooms but the field out there. The irony of this is that tomorrow, Friday, Mr. president and fountain of honor, you will yet again address the nation at 8pm. I am certain you are not aware of these new developments that seem to be aimed keeping the media away from what is happening during curfews. My question is; how do you expect the technical teams that relayed the President’s message to return home after that address yet, they cannot have a pass through the curfew.
Now, the curfew came and found us, running news bulletins for 7pm and 9pm. Many times, I leave the newsroom way beyond 7pm. I find this move very inconsiderate and unfair to the media.
Let me also say that as you keep out the media beyond 7pm, these are some of the challenges that the men in uniform you have put on the roads to effect the curfew go through.
1. They claim that some soldiers in uniform are driving private cars and loading more than three people in their cars, in complete violation of the presidential directive. What do you expect the officers on duty to do?
2. They claim that some government officials give their cars to their sons, who are driving around unnecessarily. And because the numberplate is of agencies and government sectors that are feared, the officers on duty have nothing to do but let these people flout the presidential directive! Imagine this! The media could help expose such characters….
3. Some people are driving into Kampala using letters from RDCs of other different districts. You have not yet fixed that gap.
It is high time the men in uniform understood the role and functions of the media, especially during such a time. Not everyone has a smart phone to check what is happening on twitter and Facebook. Majority of your voters depend on mainstream media; TV, Newspapers and radio for information. We shall oblige but your excellency, should clarify this for the third time. My view would also be that get other channels to address the country, especially your daily pressers which begin late evening. Another option to this, inform your ministers not to hold the pressers later than 10 am so that the journalists have ample time to put together more comprehensive stories
Finally, fighting Covid-19 without the media is as bad as a small leak into a mighty ship. Let me even borrow from the Bible, which Your Excellency often also quotes, rightly since you are a God fearing person. You cannot light your candle and put I under the bed. Thank you, Mr. President. For God and My Country. Aluta Continua. Together we shall defeat Covid-19. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni State House Uganda UPDF Wanyama Don Innocent Linda Nabulsi Kampala Metropolitan Police.”