By Doreen Musingo & Moses Nampala
As the general elections draw closer, media personalities have been tasked to hold candidates of both the opposition and the ruling party accountable for the promises they make in their manifestos.
Ofwono Opondo, the government spokesperson, says the media, especially journalists and political talk show hosts, should ensure that politicians first account for their promises to ensure the country has a credible election process.
“Most of these politicians make endless promises that only excite voters, who end up making wrong decisions. Once they make their pledges, ask them to account – like where they will get resources and what they intend to work upon,” said Opondo.
He was addressing journalists from Budekea, Elgon and Teso.
The meeting was also attended by Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) Rex Achilla from Jinja, Martin Olwoch from Tororo, John Stephen Ekoom from Soroti and James Shilaku of Mbale district.
The meeting, organized by the Media Centre at Mbale Sports Club, was aimed at empowering media personalities to ensure independence while covering the coming elections rather than depending so much on politicians, which jeopardizes their work.
Opondo warned that the media should drive national issues in the right direction rather than depending on politicians who will use the media for political gains.
Most radio stations, he said, are owned by both politicians and business-oriented people, which leads to biased and misguided reporting.
“As government, we shall bring this to the attention of the Uganda Broadcasters Association to lobby for balance of airtime and space for the various candidates both from the ruling party and the opposition,” said Opondo.
Meanwhile, he advised talk show hosts and news anchors to form an association that has rules and regulations and also be recognized by the government.
“Once you have an association registered with guiding principles, it will be the duty of government to recognize your work in building the society. However much each personality is partisan, it will also help you reduce on bias and also not tarnish the image of your media houses.”
On getting information, Opondo cautioned media personalities to verify the information they get from social media, adding that some ill-minded people have many social media accounts that they use to post information aimed at confusing the masses.
On his part, Jinja RDC Rex Achilla the RDC from Jinja, cautioned youths to stop isolating themselves from security operatives, but instead work closely with them.
He asked the participants to have love for their country to promote peace and stability – to avoid a similar post-election occurrence witnessed in Kenya where thousands of people lost their lives.
“Don’t isolate yourselves from us while carrying out your work because you give sensitive information and it’s our duty to protect you and also the nation,” he urged.
Ekoom, the RDC from Soroti, urged media personalities to clearly identify themselves to security operatives and also to avoid mob justices.