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Jeema warns New Vision against celebrating closure of rival newspapers

ARTICLE SUMMARY: In a press release issued Saturday, the Justice Forum (Jeema) President advises all media houses to speak with one voice against the closure of sections of the independent media. The party also suggests that the ‘purported’ defection of Gen. David Sejusa could be stage-managed.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY: Asuman Basalirwa is the President of the Justice Forum.


The Justice Forum (JEEMA) condemns in the strongest terms the continued siege of two media houses, including Nation Media Group outlets and the Red Pepper Publications that has entered the fifth day with no end in sight.

This is a classic case of yet another assault to the freedom of the press and a blatant attempt at gagging the fourth estate as we know it.  In closing down the media houses, President Museveni is sending a signal that he won't tolerate free and independent media when he begins his campaigns for the 2016 elections – in what will be his thirtieth year in office.

This won't be the first time that pressure on the media has been part of his political strategy. Selective application of the law and closure of radio stations curtailed independent debate in the run-up to the previous elections, in 201http://campusjournal.ug/administrator/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&layout=edit1, particularly in rural areas which are critical to an election win.

We call upon all democratic forces in the country to pull together to confront this monstrous design of turning Uganda into a police state not different from the former communist bloc.

We at JEEMA promise you, dear members of the press that we stand by you because you are our only hope in entrenching democracy in this country. Stay firm, seek alternative ways to communicate your news and beat the dictatorship at its own game. Let news stop being a commodity of the newsroom. It is possible that even more newsrooms will be closed down as the dictatorship gets more desperate.

Use the internet more and more and, yes, you may have to start new newspapers that don’t require advertisements to survive. We look forward to typical black and white newspapers (forget the colour) published in people’s living rooms or even bedrooms and distributed in the dead of the night, if need be. This is how a dictatorship is fought. Time for the so called official news channels seem to be running out. Get thinking and do it very fast.

Don’t sit there and cry. Confront the dictatorship with all your survival skills. Start publishing   small newspapers in local languages and awaken the rural masses. Forget the glamour of the town life and the nice offices. Go underground if you can and carry out your duty to inform, educate and entertain.

We appeal to the media houses that have not been affected (yet) to demonstrate their solidarity with their friends by demonstrating in form of a media blackout - if by Sunday (tomorrow) evening the Daily Monitor, KFM, Dembe and Red Pepper are not allowed to resume operations.

What do we mean by a blackout? We mean that The New Vision Group, The Observer and other print media, Radio stations and Television stations should close down for at least three days as a protest statement.

The idea that some media houses should ‘celebrate’ the misfortune of their counterparts by enjoying the monopoly of the market is immoral and should not be accepted as normal. A statement must be made by the whole media fraternity that: “We know that today it is the Daily Monitor and Red Pepper;  tomorrow it will be us and we won’t let this happen in our own country.”

The Sejusa drama

The Coordinator of intelligence agencies Gen. Sejusa caused a storm by the allegation he made in relation to the so-called Muhoozi Project. The plot thickened when he claimed that there was a plan to eliminate officers opposed to the succession of Brig. Muhoozi. In other words he believed his life was in danger.

Perhaps for that reason, Sejusa is now in self-imposed exile. Time will tell when he will be finally ‘pardoned’ and return home, just like he was pardoned previously for defying the president when he demanded a premature release from the Army.

After the ‘pardon’ he was made coordinator of intelligence agencies! There is a likelihood that when the ‘mission’ is accomplished after ‘denying ever having written the said letter’, he may land an even more lucrative job.

As we said before, to JEEMA this Sejusa drama is not interesting. When the most sensitive institution of the military begins to show such strains there is cause for concern. Already a hurried reshuffle has seen the Army command change.  It is clear that the cabinet reshuffle was made necessary by a Military reshuffle – to accommodate the former Army commander.

We are watching these events closely and the various JEEMA think tanks are digging deeper to grasp the magnitude of the situation. The cabinet Reshuffle has only served and fulfilled one purpose, the militarization of State as Generals take over the most critical areas and portfolios of the State.

For now we want to say that it is safe to take all these developments with a pinch of salt. Don’t believe what you see. There is more than what meets the innocent eye.

Once again, JEEMA appeals to all democratic forces in Uganda not to fall prey to the possible tricks of the dictatorship. To us, Sejusa is as unbelievable as those he seems to find fault with. Let us keep our eye on the ball and not be distracted by these side shows that have no meaning for democracy.

There is the possibility that such ‘shows’ can be managed by the dictatorships in an attempt to derail the democratic process. We appeal to all democratic forces – both formal and informal, political parties and civil society – to work together to push forward the electoral reforms that must take place before the next election. An independent electoral commission must be put in place to replace the handpicked [Badru] Kiggundu commission which is a dumping ground for NRM political failures.

Term limits must be restored. The electoral system should be reviewed to depart from a winner-takes-all system to a mixed proportional representation system. And Ugandans living abroad should be allowed to vote because it is their right. 

For God and My Country.