A Ugandan TV station has suspended three staff due to running a parody video that ‘attacked’ the nation’s parliament.
On Friday, the privately owned Baba TV stated it had received complaints over the broadcast that prompted them to swing into action. The station penalized presenter Simon Muyanga Lutaaya and two other workers.
According to the Daily Monitor, what got the journalists into hot soup is a critique of a motion of censure against the housing minister that had been approved by parliament in a program aired last Tuesday.
The assembly penalized minister Persis Namuganza because she had accused it of not giving her a fair hearing to address fraud allegations against her.
Lutaaya (the presenter) said: “I want to thank parliament for censuring Namuganza. Uganda’s problems are finally solved by this censure. Hospitals will have drugs. Our roads will be okay. The youths will get jobs.”
Two other journalists who concurred with him have also been penalized.
Baba TV has said that following the broadcast, several members of parliament and officials at the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) regulator registered their complaints.
“The complainants perceived the clip as demeaning, mocking and ridiculing the institution of parliament and its leadership and the honorable 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.
Interestingly, both Lutaaya and his colleague Kungu Al Mahadi Adam have also expressed regret to the UCC and the parliament.
But according to opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi better known as Bobi Wine, this was injustice meted on the journalists and militarism at best; he told AFP.
Kyagulanyi’s remarks were echoed by the director African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME), Dr. Peter Mwesige, who criticized media owners for letting down the quest for media freedom.
“What exactly was the offense? 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.
According to some media observers, the media space in Uganda has been seen to shrink.
Attacks on journalists, legal troubles, charges against election monitors, internet censorship, and the silencing of opposition figures have all occurred.