Buganda TV and Bulemezi radio licences cancelled by government

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BugandaRadioEquipMr. Museveni’s NRM government has told Buganda officials who were in the final stages of preparing to open a Buganda TV station to forget it. The order was given by the chairman of Mr. Museveni’s broadcasting council, Godfrey Mutabaazi. According to the Baganda Eddoboozi newspaper, the Kabaka of Buganda first thought of opening a TV station, to develop his kingdom,  a few years ago. Buganda government officials formed a separate company called Diamond Communications Limited to implement the Kabaka’s plans. And on February 24, the NRM government’s broadcasting council  issued a licence to Diamond to open the TV station. Since then, Buganda officials have been working hard, including ordering equipment from overseas, to put everything in  place for the Buganda TV station to open.
In announcing the surprise cancellation of the TV licence, Godfrey Mutabaazi claimed that the licence had to be cancelled because Buganda has taken too long to open the station from the date they got it.  Mutabaazi claimed that it was against the laws and regulations governing broadcast licences to delay as much as Buganda did. The TV licence cancellation comes only one week after the NRM government similarly the licence for a new Buganda radio station. The radio licence had also been obtained by Diamond Communications in 2008 and was not related to the CBS FM radio stations, which the NRM government closed late in 2009.
When the NRM government cancelled the new Buganda radio and TV licences, it completed a total radio and TV information blackout on Kabaka Mutebi and his development programs from the citizens of Buganda.  In October and November 2009, the NRM government ordered all media houses in Uganda to stop reporting might promote the image of Kabaka Mutebi or his programs or Buganda identity. And that was after Buganda’s main station CBS FM Radio and its two channels were illegally closed.  The timing of the cancellations and closures seem to be aimed at bankrupting Kabaka Mutebi’s projects and forcing Buganda to apologize for resisting the NRM government’s plans for the kingdom.
Now, the only public channels in Uganda which the Kabaka can reliably use to guide his subjects in development are two Baganda owned newspapers, Eddoboozi and Ggwanga. However, the two publications are also operating on slippery ground. However, Buganda is far from down and out. Baganda in Europe and the USA have started a variety of media outlets and some of them are dedicated to Buganda national interests. For example, last week word spread like fire around Kampala surburbs that a Baganda radio called Ababaka (www.ababaka.com)  was going to start broadcasting on Short Wave (SW) every Saturday and Sunday from 8:00PM – 10:00PM. Our reporters in Kampala have not yet been able to find people who have a SW radio and were able to tune into Ababaka Radio last weekend. However, the word continues to spread and Short Wave radios are selling very well.  The USA based Baganda radio does not need a licence from the NRM because it is supposed to use satellites to transmit but it is hard to know yet if the NRM  interfered with it at all. Ababaka Radio has been broadcasting for a long time and  is already very popular in the diaspora especially in the USA, UK and Germany.

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Ba Ssebo ne ba Nyabo, Twebaza Abaganda bonna abulumulirwa Obuganda . Era twebaza ne mikwano gya Buganda gyonna wonna wegiri munsi yonna. Omukutu guno gwatandikibwawo nga e’kigendererwa kwe kuyigiriza abantu ebintu ebikwatagana no’Buganda era nokuwanyisiganya ebilowozo nebanaffe abatali Baganda. Abaganda ne mikwano gya Buganda mukozese omukisa guno muwereze ebirowozo byamwe no’bubaka bwona obunaagasa Abaganda na’baana Buganda berizala mu maaso eyo. Obumu ku bubaka obuwerezebwa ku mukutu guno bugyibwa mukuwanyisiganya ebirowozo okubera kumukutu gwa Ugandan’s at Heart (UAH) Forum ogwatandikibwawo Mwami Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba. Era twebaza muzukulu wa Kintu ne Nnambi ono olw’omulimu gwakoledde bana Uganda bonna abali e’bunayira mungeri yo kubagatta mu byempuliziganya no’kutumbula okukolaganira awamu.

3 responses »

  1. Fellow Ugandans,

    One of our forumists wrote a question a few weeks ago as to what we could do to alleviate the current state of the media in country, and as I pondered about the question, I soon realized that the “Americans first amendment” which is quite similar to our bill of rights, has withstood many legal challenges since inception.

    I wanted to highlight a relatedness that exist between ours “Bill of rights”article 29 of our constitution and the “American Bill of rights” in the hope of to encouraging those among us who breathe and eat this stuff, to seek American jurisprudence to amicably resolve our current censorship dilemma, which seems unconstitutional as it was handed down by the central government.

    Measure for measure one finds inescapable reality in the duality that exists of both “spirit of intent”, and “worth of word” in print, between America’s “First Amendment” and our own bill of rights in Article 29 of our 2005-constitution both written below.

    The two articles that bind us to a common destiny of protecting our freedoms as embodied in the letter of law can be used with the same duality of purpose to bring instructive court precedent to bare and provide relief to many journalist and media outlets that were gagged in the recent clamp down by the government.

    Our courts need to seek out help with existing “First Amendment” jurisprudence from those who have travelled this road for 218 years. To constitutionally restore and to boldly make a stand as no other courts have in the history of our nation, to defend against attempts to restrain and censor our freedom of speech and press.

    We need to put to a halt other draconian restraints that were recently imposed upon us by the government of Yoweri Museveni in clear violation of constitutionally mandated freedoms.

    Those 45 words, first coined by James Madison, should be tabled with urgency for us as well during the December 17th 2009, meeting of tribes from the many regions of Uganda, slated to take place in Buganda.

    I would also urge those who are meeting to force as an outcome a universal “open meeting law” or “sunshine law” for each tribal state. The ‘open meeting law’ if adopted will foster a more business like culture, an atmosphere of the highest ethical standard even with our cultural institutions. We are saying that every meeting that is deemed to affect the public, should be open to media and communicated to the public even if ,it is convened by two as a way of reducing corruption.

    All Ugandans saw first hand the importance of having one aspect of a free media as a watchdog over our affairs, when we received first class utube video news and photos of the murder scene of an important General in the history of our nation, I hope those that are advocating for the throttling of the media have been given enough reason for pause.

    Americans’ first amendment to the U.S. constitution

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    ~The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

    The freedoms that they sought to protect on that day December 15th 1791, fifteen years after the signing of their “declaration of independence”, included freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition; these are the very freedoms we are trying to protect below in our own constitution article. These words were embedded in the first ten amendments of the American constitution to make up the “American Bill of rights”.

    Here is our own article in our2005- constitution speaking of the same protection of rights of individuals, our own bill of rights.

    29. Protection of freedom of conscience, expression, movement, religion, assembly and association.

    (1) Every person shall have the right to—

    (a) Freedom of speech and expression which shall include freedom of

    the press and other media;

    (c) Freedom to practice any religion and manifest such practice which shall include the right to belong to and participate in the practices of any religious body or organisation in a manner consistent with this Constitution;

    (d) Freedom to assemble and to demonstrate together with others peacefully and unarmed and to petition; and

    (e) Freedom of association which shall include the freedom to form and join associations or unions, including trade unions and political and other civic organisations.

    ~Part of Ugandans’ Bill of rights in the 2005 constitution-~

    I find many congruencies in wording and meaning in the two articles to allow our constitutional lawyers to proffer similar arguments in our courts and to bring legal challenge to those who are currently violating our constitutionally awarded freedoms.

    There is no illusion that many press censorship advocates tend to use a broad sweeping brush while trying to punish a few in violations of state laws. The use of “strict scrutiny” standards should not be used by government to make sweeping changes while in pursuit of content-based restrictions.

    The danger arises when one man abuses such freedoms without applying due process as expected of all democratic societies, who practice a strict adherence to the rule of law as stipulated by their constitution.

    We have to register our protests in the loudest manner possible to hold accountable our lawmakers and the judiciary alike and to show our displeasure with the add hock, intermittent convenient adherence and interpretation of our constitution by President Museveni.

    He has used a very narrow interpretation to clamp down on citizens, a practice that has damaged the credibility of our elected officials. It also directly affects the growth of our politics and culture, taking us back to an era which we all are not too fond of; where such curtailments brought on gross abuses of human rights, unreported and behind closed doors.

    I might as well say that those 45 words embody an eluded civility that we have died for and now trying to grope for, in darkness long after our independence. Like ones with impaired growth or gripped with alzimmers, these simple words continue to dodge many emerging market nations, while their captive audiences look on as if those protective words were inscripted in a magic mirror (“now you see it, now you don’t”), guarded only by a wand of their leaders, who are bent on torturing and abating their hope and optimism.

    We must forge a petition of agreement to break the curse of the magic mirror, once and for all a consensus must be reached or a universal agreement, to remove all the barriers that have been prohibiting us from adopting and exercising these very rights, and we can include it in our “tribal engagement rules” charter.

    For years many Supreme Court judges in America have taken a stub at interpreting it, like and the first Amendment has stood the test of time: Here is but a few excerpts of opinions from those high profile cases that put the first amendment to the test.

    “if there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein,” as Justice Robert Jackson wrote in the 1943 case West Virginia v. Barnette.

    Justice William Brennan wrote in New York Times v. Sullivan in 1964, “the First Amendment jurisprudence has long recognized that prior restraints are incompatible with the notion of a free press. That hostility toward gag orders on the press stems from the news media’s critical role in ensuring that the public has sufficient information to monitor its government, as well as the centuries-old commitment to “uninhibited, robust and wide-open “debate”. New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 270 (1964).

    On “strict scrutiny”

    At footnote 10 of its opinion, the panel recognized that the purpose of applying strict scrutiny to regulations burdening speech is to protect a person’s right to “decide for himself or herself the ideas and beliefs deserving of expression, consideration, and adherence, .. . Government action that stifles speech on account of its message . . contravenes this essential right.” Rangra v. Brown, 566 F.3d 515,520 n.10 (5th

    I would like to acknowledge the death of an icon,a civil rights activist and journalist Jack Nelson, who died a couple of weeks ago. He was an avid supporter of the free press and he has created many agencies that we can get help from to promote the same levels of protections that our American friends enjoy.Also check out these sites for guidance.

    http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/about.aspx?item=about_firstamd

    http://www.rcfp.org/news/documents/index.php
    Tendo Kaluma

    Uganda in Boston

  2. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied
    on the video to make your point. You definitely know
    what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be
    giving us something enlightening to read?

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