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Govt to mediate between Kadaga and journalists

Chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa

Ruth Nankabirwa, the government chief whip, has offered to mediate for harmony between Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and the media.

Last week, MPs led by Kadaga attacked journalists for allegedly reporting negatively on parliament.

Kadaga was particularly angered by media coverage of the MPs’ recent trip to the US to attend the Ugandan North American Association (UNAA) convention and the VIP burial expenses estimated at Shs 68 per funeral.

It was reported that parliament spent about Shs 2bn on the speaker, her deputy and MPs’ trip to the UNAA convention in Boston. Kadaga vehemently disputes the figure. That, and the proposal by parliament to give each of the 428 MPs about Shs 150m to buy vehicles, have generated fierce public debate. 

A week ago, the speaker directed the parliamentary committee on rules, discipline and privileges to look into the possibility of summoning editors and journalists to be charged with contempt of parliament for any negative report on the institution. That suggestion has set parliament on a collision course with journalists and the public.

The Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA) accused parliament of attempting to gag the media by trying to influence what it can and cannot publish. But on Thursday morning, Nankabirwa convened a meeting with parliamentary reporters and promised to reach out to Kadaga to resolve the conflict amicably.

It came after some journalists castigated proposals by parliament to force them to take an oath before they are accredited.

Isaac Imaka, the UPPA president, said: “There is need for MPs to understand how the media works for them to appreciate why we choose the angles we choose. It’s not true that every time we write about parliament someone is paying the journalists; so, there can never be an invisible hand.”

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