Online gangs have taken the race for Parliament Speaker to the gutters, running smear campaigns against the top contenders and crowing out reasonable debate about what the speaker's role and challenges are.
Parliament of Uganda
Some supporters and campaign members of the dignitaries contesting to be
Speaker of Parliament have gone native and launched smear campaigns online that cannot be quoted in normal media platforms.
The gangs, purporting to work for the two frontrunners, Speaker Rebecca
Kadaga and Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, have taken to Facebook, twitter and WhatsApp,
where they have smeared their rivals using real supporters and team members with pseudo names.
Although initially the teams started with posting
constructive posts by the two different contestants, like career development and ability to steer the house among others, the debate has
degenerated to wild smear campaigns where the sides are attacking each other with abuses and insults.
On some Whatsapp groups for instance, several so-called influencers and some supporters are accusing one side of
relying on traditional witchdoctors,
citing the incident of a human head that was dropped in
Parliament, and corruption allegations against the rivals. There is also use of
fake news indicating that one party has quit the race and is heading to
appointment as Vice President.
On the other side, one of the candidate has been smeared as fighting
against MPs including humiliating them, and working against the interests of
Parliament and propaganda against Parliament employees. Others include
statements that people from the same area cannot lead two arms of the legislature,
and also statements that some people are new in the National Resistance
Movement Party -NRM.
On the Parliament Whatsapp group for journalists, some
journalists have been removed for posting content regarded as fake news on one of the two speakers.
Both sides have however refuted claims of smear campaign accusing
the other instead. Kadaga’s social media camp led by Dickens Okello states that
the Oulanyah camp is leading the smear campaign while they remain professional.
“For we truly know that politics of blackmail and disrespect
is for the weak and desolate candidate void of mission but cheap hate," Okello posted in Uganda we want. "We
don't ridicule Rt. Hon. Oulanyah but there are hundreds of pictures and videos
here ridiculing Kadaga. Not that we can't do the same; we are people of
John Bosoco Uhuru, one of the team members for Oulanyah says
that they have not stated any lie in their campaign, and that theirs are facts
documented on media.
Uhuru says that the social media attacks are so much their
rivals' going so personal and attacking Oulanyah and his families.
Hellen Kawesa, the Parliament’s Director Corporate and
Public Affairs says that they are discussing ways to stop these smear
Attempts to speak to Uganda Communications Commission were futile by press time.