Media Houses Fail To Turn Up: Committee to Make Report
The Rules, Privileges and Discipline committee of Parliament will start drafting its report on investigations into sensational reporting by the media.
The resolution stems from failure by three media houses to appear before the committee for a third time in a row, to explain what Parliament terms as negative stories, deemed to be unbalanced, and placing Parliament’s image in disrepute.
Parliament directed the committee to summon the editors of Red Pepper newspaper, The Observer newspaper and Uganda Radio Network news agency to explain the publishing of stories the MPs quoted to be sensational.
Some of the stories under scrutiny include reports that Parliament spent about 2 billion shillings on over 70 MPs for the UNAA convention in the United States of America.
Also questioned is a story published by Kamunye, a sister paper of the Red Pepper, in which pictures of MPs depicted as pigs was published, while the Observer’s story on Parliament shutting down due to the UNAA convention also prompted the summons from the committee.
However the editors did not appear before the committee on October 26, 2016 as scheduled through the summons. The editors insist that the committee does not have jurisdiction to summon them.
Kitagwenda County MP, Abbas Agaba, who doubles as the committee vice chairperson, said it is unfortunate that the media houses were given an opportunity to defend themselves but they snubbed the summons.
“We gave those media people a last chance to appear because we didn’t want to act and be seen to be highhanded. They have not come out of adamancy or ignorance. So we shall have a meeting as a committee and draft our report. You know even when you don’t appear in court, a decision is made ex parte so we shall make our decision without their side of the story,” Agaba explained.
Agaba said the editors should have at least shown good will and appeared to present their concerns and grievances against Parliament before the committee.
“Unfortunately we envisaged a chance to have a good interaction and exchange information but now that they have abandoned the goodwill, we have to take action. We believe this was contempt of Parliament,” Agaba added.
The committee is slated to sit next week to draft its report, which will later be tabled before the House for debate and recommendations made.