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Journalists asked to unite to have a louder voice

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Journalists have been urged to unite under one umbrella organization if they are to have a voice.

The call was made by Kyetume Kasanga, the Principal Information Officer in the office of the Prime Minister who also doubles as the secretary of the Media Council, the statutory body in charge of media regulation.

Speaking at Hotel Africana on Tuesday at the annual media dinner organized by the Uganda Journalist Association-UJA, to celebrate World Press Freedom Day, Kasanga said unlike other professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and teachers who have a central body that brings them together, journalists are still fragmented which reduces their ability for collective bargaining for better working conditions.

Kasanga implored all media organizations such as Uganda Journalists Association, Uganda Journalists Union, among others to join the Uganda Media Sector Working Group that was established recently to study how to improve the legal framework related to the press.

Kasanga explained that currently, they are making consultations about the amendment of the Press and Journalist Act so that it can reflect the current state of the media in Uganda.

He said that looking at the law now, it becomes obvious that it was not well thought out as it left out some critical issues that are relevant in the proper management and execution of journalists’ duties.

Kasanga also emphasized that if journalism was indeed a profession like some people have reasoned, then there is a great need to regulate it in order to properly perform its watchdog function.

Joshua Kyalimpa, the former president of UJA called upon the government not to leave out the media while it consults on the amendment to the Press and Journalist Act.

Kyalimpa said it would be an anomaly if the media that is the direct target of the amendment is not consulted.

He too called for unity among journalists as the best way to overcome journalism challenges like attacks from government security agencies, poor working conditions, and poor pay among others.

At the function, UJA awarded different personalities for their valuable contribution not only to the journalism profession but also to humanity as a whole. Among those awarded included John Kakande, the former news editor of New Vision newspaper, Luyimbazi Nalukoola, a city lawyer for representing in court journalists who have had run-ins with the law, Dr. Lawrence Muganga, the vice-chancellor of Victoria University for extending scholarships to journalists, David Ssenfuka and Dr. Moses Mpairwe, two researchers on herbal medicine that has proved effective in fighting cancer and diabetes.

In accepting the award, Ssenfuka said he was thrilled that society is appreciative of the work he is doing. He thanked the journalists for taking a keen interest in what he does and communicating it to the people who have seen a tremendous interest in his work including President Museveni.

Dr. Mpairwe said he was overjoyed that his contribution to the well-being of society has been identified and honored.

World Press Freedom Day is celebrated every year worldwide to celebrate the work that journalists do to hold those with power accountable. The celebrations are normally used to remind the government and other non-state actors fond of abusing the freedom of the media to desist from the acts as they do not only run contrary to most constitutional guarantees but also deprive society of their right to receive and impart information.

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