Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Friday met with operators of Media houses ahead of the Heads of State and Government Summit that took place at the Commonwealth Resort, Munyonyo today.
Unlike the news conferences we are accustomed to, where reporters put to the President questions, this briefing was unique in a way that it brought together proprietors and Executive Heads of the EAC with a clear and harmonised view to fast-track integration who shared views with the Chairman of the East African Community.
The media operators have been in Kampala for two days to enhance their own knowledge of integration and discuss effective dissemination of information on integration to East Africans.
Mr. Robert Kabushenga who has for the last 2 days chaired the EAC’ media informed the President at a briefing that was attended by EAC Secretary General Dr. Richard Sezibera and Uganda’s Ministers
Shem Bageine and Asuman Kiyingi said that the media operators of Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda had decided to form a body of media operators. Operators of other media houses had their take, too:
Red Pepper’s Arinaitwe Otim Rugyendo raised the issue of taxation saying: ” My understanding of the EA integration is business. We have issues of taxes on inks and other materials. Taxes on materials have resulted into incresed prices of paper. If our paper is expensive we cannot cheaply disseminate information on integration.
Responding to Mr. Rugyendo’s request about taxation the President said: ” If you are doing real work for Africans, we can see. But if you are spreading decadence…If I note that there is a sense of patriotism in your reporting, I will be the first to say bamuleke!
Rwanda’s Arthur Asiimwe said: ” We’ve not come as the usual rumour mongers. As media, we can play a significant role. As the initiative kicks off we can make a contribution.We hope that each and every year we have such interactions.”
” First of all, we support East Africa’s integration. As we run towards integration, we would like to find a away of harmonising the laws of the media in the community. We must take the destiny in our hands. I completely support this initiative( of East Africa’s Media Operators body). Often times there is a rush to get a guy from outside to do digital media and signal distribution, yet our region’s media have that capacity. Looking forward to close working relations with our East African leaders towards integration.”
Mr. Linus Kitayi, CEO Nation Media said.
Burundi’s Esperance Ndayize: “Mine is about transport costs of our journalists to other East African countries. For example transport costs from Burundi to Kenya are very high. The other is high accreditation fees of journalists from one country to another. Training of journalists is also very important. In our case, Burundian journalists would learn much, especially about reporting in English, if they spent a month in Uganda.
President Museveni sent every one in the room laughing when he responded thus: ” Better late than never, if all of you have woken up, Alhamudulilah.”
President Museveni’s command of French these days, amuses many…..Explaining that Africa was conquered because of weaknesses of low level of integration, small chiefdoms commanded by Chiefs who thought were very big, the President said Africans suffer from sleeping. ” The French have a word ‘dormir.’ Les Africains dorment,” – he said.
Speaking in English and Swahili he kept the room lively: “In my tribe, there was a King called Rubambazi. Rubambazi means comptroller of the whole world. He tbought he comtrolled the whole world. When the Europeans came, the Comptroller of the whole world disappeared. He was the first to sign the capitulation agreement. In Tanzania there was one known as Rumanyika, that he was known to the whole world,” – he said to endless giggles by the Media gurus, as he lectured about 5 elements critical to modern living emphasizing that integration is about modern life. Details of the President’s lecture in following post.
Adapted Fro Sarah Kagingo’s Wall
She is the Special Presidential Assistant On Communications