In a supposed, questionable bid to increase the quality of reporting, The Parliamentary Commission of Uganda issued a directive to block journalists without a university degree from reporting on parliamentary proceedings. This will mean that only journalists with a background of graduating and practicing for up to three years in fields such as journalism or mass communication will be allowed to report on parliamentary proceedings.
The directive which was communicated to media houses via a letter also reserves the right to grant or withdraw accreditation to journalists to the Parliament. On its own, the move seems like an innocent one but coming on the heels of earlier agitations in the country regarding the press, it begs the question ‘what exactly is the Parliament playing at?
Just last week Monday, the Human Rights Watch released a report where it accused the government of President Yoweri Museveni of hindering free coverage by reporters critical of his administration as the country prepares for next month’s election. The report is based on over 170 interviews of journalists, activists, witnesses, government officials and party members.
It’s just a little over four weeks until Uganda goes to elections for the presidential and parliamentary offices, where President Museveni faces off with Amama Mbabazi and Kizza Besigye. On need to know about these two other candidates, Kizza Besigye was placed on house arrest in December after the government determined that his political rallies were illegal and Mbabazi had served as Prime Minister from 2011 to 2014 before being sacked by the President after it was discovered that he had presidential ambitions.
The Human Rights Watch also points to a specific concern about the recent passing of the Non Governmental Organisations Act which it ascribes the nature of being prejudicial to the interests of Uganda and the dignity of the people of Uganda. It encourages the President not to sign it into law.
With all this prior moves, it becomes apparent that there is more to this directive than to promote quality reporting of the parliamentary proceedings. What do you think?