A cross section of Ugandans and media experts have condemned the decision by Baba TV to suspend three of its journalists for criticising Parliament for approving a motion of censure against Housing minister Persis Namuganza.
Baba TV on Friday said announced the suspension of presenter Simon Muyanga Lutaaya, Kungu Al Mahadi Adam and one other, saying they had received a complaint from Parliament and UCC.
“The complainants perceived the clip as demeaning, mocking and ridiculing the institution of parliament and its leadership and the honourable members (of parliament),” the station management said.
“As a station committed and accountable to its viewers, management has since reviewed the show and taken internal measures to avoid a repeat of the same in future, including suspending the crew,” it said, apologising to parliament and the UCC.
But the former executive director African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME), Dr Peter Mwesige said such media owners are in a way a bigger threat to media freedom than the government.
“What exactly was the offence? You don’t owe anybody an apology. You have the right to share your opinion. Clearly your employers have no backbone. In fact such media owners are in a way a bigger threat to media freedom than the gov’t,” he tweeted.
Journalist Solomon Kaweesa said: “With all due respect, this apology was so unnecessary. But, we understand the pressure behind it . And, what you said in the clip was so right. Parliament wastes a lot of time debating redundant issues.”
Former journalist and leader of opposition in parliament Wafula Oguttu tweeted: “That is nonsense. Why apologize for no crime committed? Which law did you break?”
Novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija tweeted: “You’re apologizing for doing your job?”
Cartoonist Jim Spire Ssentongo said: “Not while standing, kneel down. Do you know how big and important the Speaker is?”
Uganda has seen a series of crackdowns on people opposed to the rule of President Yoweri Museveni.
Journalists have been attacked, lawyers jailed, election monitors prosecuted, the internet shut down and opposition leaders muzzled.