It is quite interesting to note that a radio journalist went missing, allegedly taken into custody by security operatives but the media in Uganda chose to pay less attention this time. After all he is not Kalundi Serumaga and many scribes are busy covering the ongoing presidential campaigns.
The remaining attention has been turned to the hot story of journalists who were arrested over allegations that they tried to extort about Shs40 million from Dr. William Muhairwe, the Managing Director of Uganda’s National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) so as to ‘kill’ a negative story about him and the utility company that he heads.
The story has been making some rounds on the social networking platform, Facebook with many of my colleagues quick to accuse the journalists of shaming the noble profession. Others even suggested that the journalism fraternity should create entry gates to keep out rogue practitioners.
While reading the comments on this event, I was reminded of the verse that beckons assumed non sinners to be the first to cast the first stones. The wider media fraternity in Uganda long lost its moral ground when it accepted a huge envelope from the president.
During the NRM (ruling party) primaries, journalists were reported to have fought for money from the Movement secretariat. The tendency for journalists to expect kickbacks before writing good stories is an old one. The only new thing is that these ones were caught red handed. Yes the 11th commandment still is, “Thou shall not be caught.”
Do I have to remind you that these journalists were caught just two days after two other journalists and a city lawyer were arrested in a racket that attempted to extort Shs50 million from Works Ministry PS, Charles Muganzi?
My take on this is that corruption has eaten up all sectors and layers of the Ugandan society without sparing the media. Check any major Ugandan newspaper and see how many corruption stories are there and how diverse they are. We have a government that has totally failed to crack down on corruption.
Reports by commissions and media agencies detailing corruption are now reservoirs of dust. The general public seems to have taken on a fatalistic attitude with no hope in sight. Corruption has become the way of life in Uganda’s society with everyone trying to ‘eat’ from his job.
Many have ‘eaten’ more than they earn. Others even have no time to bank the loot; they just stash it under their beds like the Uganda Wildlife Authority official who had Shs900m stolen from under his bed by – wait for this one – his wife! Just recently, Salim Saleh’s (Brother to the president) daughter was robbed of Shs500m by the house maid.
It therefore makes no sense for us to feign shock over journalists who asked for money from a big shot. Uganda has nurtured corruption to unknown levels particularly in Museveni’s regime of 24yrs and counting.
The journalists’ crime in this case is simply getting caught trying to partake in the feast of corruption (the ‘Ugandan Dream’) that the government officials and so many others have been attending for ages. Now let he who has not been corrupted throw the first stone. God bless the media and our country.