KAMPALA – Speaker Rebecca Kadaga met with journalists covering parliament in which she tipped them on how to cover and harmonise their relationship with the legislative body.
Under their umbrella body, Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA) Kadaga announced that there are other measures parliament is going to take regarding their coverage after discovering that Parliament doesn’t have its own media room to monitor what’s being said about the institution.
She said: “Sometimes we expect your editors to call us and say there is this story that is coming but you just wake up and something is in the press in other countries, there is a better relationship, it isn’t just of surprise. I hope we can work along those lines.”
The Speaker also promised to have a motion tabled before the floor of Parliament regarding Police’s treatment of suspects during arrest arguing that ignoring the Force’s actions puts other groups at risk of suffering the same fate.
Kadaga said that the treatment might be ignored because its journalists and the same treatment turns to other people like MPs, thus making discussion an important area that needs to be addressed.
The Speaker explained: “I find it ironical that the World Press Freedom day came when there were so many problems happening to journalists and I do hope we shall continue to address them so these cases go down. It is something we are going to continue discussing about and will have to speak with one of our Committees to see if we can come up with a motion so that we debate so that we have a debate and come up with a recommendation. For me I will not stop speaking out, I speak out, they threaten me, I am ready for anything.”
She also promised to study the Scandinavian model to see how Government supports the media sector saying the Parliamentary Commission will need to be brought on board as part of Corporate Social Responsibility, to forge an entry point because if the institution is able to do things for other people who aren’t at parliament, what about journalists who are here?
Kadaga also promised to write to both President Yoweri Museveni as well as the Minister of ICT, Frank Tumwebaze to remind them about their duty to establish the Media Tribunal and Media Council respectively.
She said that Parliament has been left bothered after making laws in good faith but so many things aren’t in place, “I am going to write to the President and remind him about the Media Tribunal, you know when there are vacuum that is when people occupy them. There should be a place for dialogue so that you don’t just go into a clash with other actors. On space, we still have a problem,” said Kadaga.
On journalists’ coverage of Parliament, she asked the members of the fourth estate to improve especially when they seek opinions from MPs in the corridor and label the remarks as decisions of Parliament.
She explained: “I want you to differentiate between decisions of Parliament and opinion MPs, sometimes you preempt our reports even if a Committee is seated and has taken a view, they should come back to us to debate and take a decision. So it is important you wait for the tail end of our decision before you come up with the position that this is what Parliament is saying.”