Ugandan Media Faulted on Lowering Threshold

Amanya Mushega, the former Secretary General of the East African Community
Amanya Mushega, the former Secretary General of the East African Community

The media is being encouraged to insist on a threshold or risk losing issues that affect their audience.

The Kenyan High commissioner to Uganda retired Maj Gen Geoffrey Okanga says the media has lowered its expectations in demanding for promises made by the political class.

He was speaking at a dialogue titled, building scenarios for the Kenyan electoral process and its implications to regional economies, peace and security in Kampala.

Commissioner Okanga cites examples such as politicians talking about potholes and the dysfunctional railway line that would otherwise be used by Uganda to transport equipment and supplies to Pakwach where government intends to set up an oil refinery.

The Kenyan High commissioner also notes that in regards to the Kenyan elections, the media has been drumming so much for conflict rather than for peace. Most of the stories have been portrayed in such a manner that it seems they miss conflict.

He adds that it is time for the media to write home based stories from the African perspective but with the African accent and create linkages. However, most stories are politically controlled because of the ignorance of most African countries.

They do not know what they have on the ground such as letting European companies come to tell them for example that Kenya and Uganda both have oil yet it should be a well-known fact by the African leaders.

Robie Kakonge, a media consultant with Africa Speaks, says the presidential election is an unfolding story yet the focus has been on the potential of violence caused by other underlying issues such as the economy.

Col Felix Kulaigye the UPDF spokesperson, talking about security urges the media not to encourage stories of war considering Kenya is a strong economical hub in the East African region.

He cites stories written about the purchase of machetes in Kenya in anticipation of violence. Kenya was previously a gun corridor to Europe, however, Col Kulaigye says now there is no exit yet the wounds of the 2007 post-election violence have not been addressed.

Amanya Mushega, the former Secretary General of the East African Community, acknowledges that it’s only Kenya that has changed leaders and political parties peacefully. He recalls that the most peaceful election in Kenya which had no tribalism and ethnicity as an issue was in 2002 when there was no incumbent.

Outgoing President Mwai Kibaki has invited all the candidates for a meeting; however Mushega notes that such a gesture is impossible in Uganda since the incumbent is always a candidate too.

The dialogue organized by Dr Arthur Bainomugisha of Advocates coalition for development and environment says there is need to promote good governance and highlight the challenges each country faces when there are interruptions in the region and what control measures have been put in place.

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