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Diaspora Community Saga; Media Council Summons Eight Media Outlets :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Diaspora Community Saga; Media Council Summons Eight Media Outlets

In an August 28, 2023 letter signed by the UMC Secretary, editors from New Vision Printing and Publishing Company, as well as online channels including Entebbe Post, Nation Times, PML Daily, Ultimate News, Daily Express, Red Pepper Online Newspaper, and The Onion, have been summoned to appear before the disciplinary committee on September 19th to address ethical concerns related to complaints filed against them.
04 Sep 2023 09:19
The Uganda Media Council-UMC has summoned eight media outlets accused of violating ethical standards in their coverage of Henrietta Nairuba Wamala, the head of the Uganda North America Association (UNAA), and other top members of her administration. 

In an August 28, 2023 letter signed by the UMC Secretary, editors from New Vision Printing and Publishing Company, as well as online channels including Entebbe Post, Nation Times, PML Daily, Ultimate News, Daily Express, Red Pepper Online Newspaper, and The Onion, have been summoned to appear before the disciplinary committee on September 19th to address ethical concerns related to complaints filed against them.

"If no appearance is made by yourself or by someone authorized to act/or submit for you, the Council will determine the issues in your absence, " reads the letter in part. According to Council Secretary Kyetume Kasanga, the complaints were filed by the UNAA president and other association members. The grievances stem from alleged violations of minimum journalistic standards regarding accuracy, misleading information, distortion, and obscenity, as stipulated in the 2014 Regulations of the Press and Journalists Act.

The complaint is outlined in a July 11, 2023 letter, authored by Kalikumutima and Company Advocates on behalf of Nairuba and the entire top leadership of UNAA. It alleges that the media outlets in question published stories that undermined the ethical standards set for journalists. Specific stories mentioned include allegations that the UNAA leadership hired an IT expert to manipulate an upcoming election and claims that a sum of 500 million Shillings given to UNAA by the government was misappropriated by the top leadership.

The complaint asserts that these stories breached ethical codes and were maliciously published with the intent to tarnish the reputation of Nairuba and other UNAA leaders in the eyes of the public. "The minds of right-thinking members of society including many readers of online publications interested in UNAA matters, the publications depicted our client (Nairuba) and she was and is still perceived to be a thief, an abuser of public resources, a person of poor morals who works in cohorts with government officials in schemes to siphon money from government coffers and one who cannot be trusted with public leadership," reads the petition in part.

The Uganda Media Council aims to receive responses from the media outlets, confirming their awareness of the cited stories and their commitment to attend the scheduled hearing. "After we have met the parties involved, we shall determine if there is a case and if it is one for arbitration or court," said Kyetume when contacted by the URN. The UNAA administration has faced criticism for its perceived lack of transparency and accountability. Issues surrounding the handling of funds and governance have generated scrutiny.

There have also been questions over the US$ 100,000 that the Organisation is said to receive annually from the Uganda government through its embassy in the USA. Brian Kwesiga, a former President and CEO of UNAA, says that this money, which is not in the Uganda government budget, in a real sense is not going to UNAA but rather to individuals who cannot be held accountable. "It serves the interests of individuals in UNAA, not the interest of the UNAA membership," writes Kwesiga in his commentary titled, "Will UNAA ever fulfill its immense potential, or is it forever doomed to mediocrity?"

Kwesiga also writes that UNAA is embroidered in internal conflict, sabotage, and character assassination, especially during campaign periods. In the buildup to the 2019 UNAA election, there were allegations of registering members who sympathized with the current UNAA president Nairuba having been declared winner during a re-election in 2020. It was alleged that members who were thought to be opponents of Nairuba met several blocks when they tried to register online while those who were pro-Nairuba were instead helped to register at a reduced fee of US$20 from 50 dollars. 

The author further refers to the interference of the Ugandan government by supporting some candidates who are seen to sympathize with the ruling government. In the 2019 elections, for example, Kwesiga writes how documentary evidence indicated that Shillings 100 million was transferred to accounts of Timothy Nyonjo of Seattle, Washington area, and Ronald Lwanga from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to campaign for Nairuba. The two are said to be diaspora-based NRM mobilizers.

"Let me state from the outset that I recognize that the government of Uganda and the ruling party, the NRM (National Resistance Movement), have genuine fear real or perceived of having a hostile diaspora. It is this fear that folks with less than well-adjusted conscience then exploit to get money flowing from Uganda to their pockets" writes Kwesiga.

The term of the current administration ends this month of September and the diaspora population is set to elect a new administration into office at an event in Dallas, Texas. The new administration shall then serve for a year's term from September 2023 to September 2025. UNAA is the largest Association of Ugandans in the diaspora and boost of over 120,000 community members and runs an annual budget exceeding US$200,000.

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