My Reactions to the #MediaSiege

Posted on Updated on

So, today Uganda Government Media Centre, released a statement on the Closure of Daily Monitor and The Red Pepper. In my simple mind, I still need the Minister to explain a few things – – in simple lay man’s language:

1. From #2 – Did police seek to find if the purported author of this letter considers the attribution of the same to himself wrong, false or not?
Is it not proper, that while you have every right to ask the publishers of the letter their source, its only fair that you ask the alleged author to come out and speak for himself, after all should he deny it, you will need far less energy and force to compel the publisher towards more revelations about their story?

2. On 9th May, Police summoned some Monitor Publications Limited (MPL) Officials – they showed up on the 14th. In paragraph 5, you go on to say they did not co-operate – exactly what did you require of them and exactly how did they not cooperate. You can say that you asked them to deliver documents x, y z and they came with only document x, explaining that documents y and z had been eaten by rats.

3. In Paragraph #6, Police went to Court to “compel” the MPL to reveal the letter and the source – surely, the letter had been published and digital content does not just disappear – and unless MPL can deny their edition of the 7th of May 2013 – if they were proving uncooperative, there was already enough to pin them. I need to understand why this did not appeal to the Police as an alternative avenue to pursue their interests.

4 – In #7, I commend the Police for going to court to seek a Search Warrant – I think it would be great for the Media Centre to state the conditions of this warrant. As far as am aware, you can search my home, BUT you have no right whatsoever to turn the TV off, nor to empty the fridge, just because you have a search warrant of my house. WHY did 2 radio stations suffer the high-handed wrath of the Police? Is it exclusively provided for by the Court, that these were party to the case at hand, and required to be switched off, in order for the search to be more effective?

7.    Subsequently on the 20th of May 2013, the Police decided to go to court again and, this time obtained a search warrant authorizing the search of the Monitor premises for the letter as well as any other document related to or similar to it.

You claim that you were searching for Documents SIMILAR or RELATED to it – what criteria did you use to identify this similarity? As you can imagine, a news paper print office will have millions of documents – and we all know Uganda Police does not have the man-power to read each and every document that was located in the office? Exactly how did you plan to search for a 1 page document from 6 floors? Which might have been shredded already, considering the digital version was already out on the streets…

5 – in #8 – Police was served with a cancellation – from the same judge, who is reported to have said the Police violated the Search Warrant Terms. You take issue with the fact that the Magistrate changed her mind. Is this WRONG? You say its irregular, that’s alright – but do you think its IMPOSSIBLE? You see, unlike the Police and Military, most other professions have the liberty to independently think – and they can change their minds, and its not a sign of weakness – its humbling to know that you might have erred, and to go back and try to correct it is even noble  Am surprised that the Minister takes issue with this, and even reports it in his statement. Perhaps this is why Uganda government officials are so easily described with the word impunity –

6 – So in #9 – Police invokes the act that allows them to remain in the premises without a Search Warrant – ok, that’s fair. So why did we waste court time and resources when this could have been done on the 8th or 9th of May? We wanted to “sanitize” the process, huh? Whereas i applaud the decision to go to court in the first place, am impressed at how speedy the Police hides under the act when their own Search warrant is withdrawn – clearly, i have watched enough movies to know this as a trick.

7 – In #10, there are crimes named, by the Minister, as having been committed by the MPL against the Official Secrets Act. Now this is very interesting. So this letter falls under the OSA OR there are specific crimes committed, while the Police was under watch, by MPL officials who were supposed to be locked out of their offices…? Please clarify…

8 – Between #11 and #12 – the MPL officials head to Addis Ababa to meet with the President. Surely there are institutions and Structures in this country to handle such a case without the specific intervention of the president. Am beginning to think this definition of Banana Country is real – you see with a steamy banana lunch, every one will be served by the mother of the home, who is maneuvering her way in the hot banana leaves, for a slice of steamy goodness… Why does everything have to start/stop with my president? Where are the institutions?

9 – From #13 on wards, there is a litany of undertakings – one thing is missing – WHERE IS THE LETTER? – or rather, has the government now lost interest in the letter? You see when you went in, you said high and mighty words about the letter – so we onlookers are waiting for the letter. In the undertakings which have been accepted by Government, there is no mention about the letter. Is this government’s focus so myopic that the letter is now forgotten? Really?

You are now lending credence to what some of us speculated earlier, there was never a letter, and when the Police went in, the letter was not the real issue. Its as if you wanted to hurt the MPL. Income for 10 days is worth something – for a business that thrives on dailys. Alas – the taxes lost in that income are worth nothing, no?

10 – In #14, the minister proudly says the Police will continue the search, but now its ok for MPL operations to continue – really? And it was never ok in the first place? Guess its just me, but i sure find this very hard to believe.

As a regular citizen, if there was no letter or none found, either these MPL chaps know a thing or 2 about really hiding things OR my government has exhibited incompetence! How could you descend on 6 floors and not find a letter – with 2 laws to back you to search the place, under lock and key?

Of course in all this saga, we missed lots of information – and Police and the Interior minister does not consider it important to say anything about the right to information, and the violation of it.

And then there was the saga of the running battles with Journalists – and how you teargassed them. Am sure when you call a press conference, you will have lots of them on your side.

At the end of the day, its great to have 933KFm, Ddembe FM back on air and The Daily Monitor back in print – watch as they outsell their first resurrection edition, tomorrow 31st May 2013.

So i suppose the next course of action will happen at a new location – 11 Broadway St, New York – after all the General, David Sejusa,has written another Letter!


One thought on “My Reactions to the #MediaSiege

    marzma said:
    May 30, 2013 at 11:01 am

    #OH UGANDA!!! why do some government institutions think they are above the law is it because their mandate is to keep law and order?

Comments are closed.