As Uganda celebrates its 56th anniversary, allegations of media censorship are on the increase.
Yoweri Museveni, who has been the East African country’s president for the past 32 years spoke exclusively to SABC on press freedom and freedom of expression. This was on the side-lines of the Kampala- DRC summit in Uganda.
The East African country achieved its independence in 1962. But its former President Idi Amin terrorised the nation. This ultimately led to Yoweri Museveni staging a coup. Thirty two years on Ugandans still face challenges.
“Museveni, the President of Uganda is eating money here, that is our problem in Uganda,” says a resident.
Allegations the President has denied. “Those who give an impression that there is a political problem here are just liars, whatever comes, there is a way to handle it democratically,” says Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
There are also allegations that the media has borne the brunt of censorship for decades. Activists say intimidation and violence have become daily challenges.
“The other challenge is about the fear the media is operating in, there is a lot of censorship, fear of reprisals, because the regulatory body of the media called the Ugandan communications media is issuing threats to media houses directing it not to cover political activities. Some people here are not allowed in certain media houses especially those in the opposition, Bobi Wine, media is also under pressure not to host him in any platform,” says a Human rights activist.
Last month, a video circulated on social media showing a photographer, James Akena, surrounded by Ugandan soldiers who were beating him.
Akena was covering the demonstrations for the release of a Member of Parliament and pop singer also known as Bobi Wine.
But the Ugandan president has dismissed allegations of media censorship.
“The media freedom is too much, it needs to be more disciplined, and it is anarchy. In South Africa, you don’t misbehave so much, you are more self-regulating,” says Museveni.
Meanwhile, human rights activists have vowed to continue to fight for press freedom.
Uganda is now ranked 117th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ 2018 World Press Freedom Index.
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