Vendors Count Losses as Gov't Refuses to Reopen Media Houses

1891 Views Masaka, Uganda

In short
The “Muhoozi project” refers to claims by some politicians that President Yoweri Museveni is grooming his son Brigadier Kainerugaba Muhoozi to replace him once he retires from office.

Newspaper vendors in Masaka are counting loses as the police siege of Daily Monitor and Red pepper continues. On Monday last week, Police besieged Daily Monitor and Red Pepper Publications allegedly to search for a letter authored by General David Ssejusa, the coordinator of intelligence services calling for investigations into a plot to assassinate top army officials and politicians opposed to the “Muhoozi project”. The “Muhoozi project” refers to claims by some politicians that President Yoweri Museveni is grooming his son Brigadier Kainerugaba Muhoozi to replace him once he retires from office.

During the raid, Police declared the Daily Monitor and Red Pepper offices a crime scene and ordered all staff to vacate the premises. Police also switched off KFM and Dembe FM that are owned by Nation media. Both media houses papers have not been able to publish since they are still besieged by police. The closure of the media houses has greatly affected the income of newspaper vendors and freelance writers. They claim that despite the fact that government owned New vision and Observer, a tri-weekly independent publication are still operational; the closure of Daily monitor and Red pepper publications has hit them hard.

Assa Mugisha, a newspaper vendor at Shell Buddu along the Masaka-Bukoba Highway says his sales have dropped significantly and affected his commission. Mugisha says he has lost about 150,000 shillings since police besieged the newspaper offices. He is worried that his children may not return to school this week, because of his hope to raise fees has vanished.

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January Koloneli, another Newspaper vendor claims that some of their customers have turned against them over the closure of the media houses. He claims that Dick Muwanga, the Kingo sub county LC3 Chairperson almost slapped him on Wednesday last week for giving him New Vision yet he buys Daily Monitor and Red Pepper. Koloneli claims that he has been selling 120 copies each day, but since Daily Monitor and Red pepper were closed he only sales 20 copies. He claims most corporate companies and non government organizations are no longer buying news papers.

He asks Government to consider opening the media houses because their closure has almost left them jobless. The closure of the media houses has also affected freelancer journalists. Fahad Jjingo and Martins Ssekweyama have been selling their stories to the closed media houses. They are worried that the closure of the media houses will affect their income this month because all the stories they sent this month have not been used. Martins Ssekweyama, who writes for Daily Monitor says he feels demoralized by the closure of his media house because is has affected his story count.

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Godfrey Kayemba, the mayor Masaka municipality has blasted some journalists who continue to run after government functions even after the attack on media houses. Kayemba advises journalists to unite and boycott all government functions to compel it to respect uninterrupted media operations.

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John Jones, a veteran journalist has warned of increased violations of media freedoms in Uganda. John Jones worked for Munno News Paper that was temporarily closed by the Obote government during the 1966 crisis. He says there are all signs that government will clamp hard on the media. 

 

About the author

Edward Bindhe
Bindhe prides himself on being a part of the society he writes about. He believes there is no way a journalist can understand his society unless it considers him a part of it. This is why he is dedicated to investigating the challenges of the "little person."

Bindhe says, "My work reflects the Uganda Radio Network unique approach to news." Not many Ugandan journalists would consider or even notice the re-emergence of Water Hyacinth on a lake. Bindhe does.

Truant children will attract Bindhe's attention until he gets to the bottom of their truancy: poverty and the need to work to earn bread for their families. These are the kinds of stories Bindhe is often after.

Edward Bindhe is the Masaka URN bureau chief. Rakai, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Kalangala, Mpigi, Kalungu, Bukomansimbi and Sembabule districts fall under his docket. He has been a URN staff member since 2009.

A Mass Communication graduate from Uganda Christian University, Bindhe started practising journalism in 2008 as a reporter for Radio Buddu in Masaka district.