Is the government of Uganda scared of Bobi Wine? Its recent actions have spelled nothing short of fear for the MP, who has become a major critic of President Yoweri Museveni’s rule.
President Museveni has been in power since 1986, and MP/musician, Bobi Wine, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu has become a leading voice and headliner of critics across the world who continues to criticize the president’s long stay in power and iron-fist actions against the opposition.
In recent times, the media has taken the front seat in reporting activities between Bobi Wine and President Yoweri Museveni as their face-off continues. Museveni has thrown the MP in jail multiple times as a result of his protests and calls for Ugandans to unite in pressurizing the president to step down or allow an opposition candidate contest against him.
The president, who has ruled the country since 1986 and looks set to contest again unopposed in the coming 2021 elections, has never faced a single opposition candidate in an election. He always returns himself unopposed – something Bobi Wine says has to end.
Sadly, it appears the media is under pressure to stop any coverage on Bobi Wine as Ugandan authorities have rolled out strict sanctions against journalists and media agencies that do so.
Earlier this month a government regulator ordered the suspension of journalists at 13 radio and TV stations in apparent response to their coverage of Wine. The Uganda Communications Commission accused them of carrying “extremist or anarchic messages.” One journalists’ group called the directive “madness.”
The local association of broadcasters indicated it would not comply, asserting press freedom; but for how long can they stand firm without bowing to the pressure?
“The state is tightening every avenue,” said Joel Ssenyonyi, a spokesman for Wine. “But we are going to keep engaging with the people whenever an opportunity is made available.”
Apart from placing a heavy tax on social media use in the country, the president has not failed to punish journalists and media houses that he finds unsupportive of his policies.
Anti-government demonstrators often face beatings, tear gas and gunfire. Increasingly, journalists are not safe. In August a Reuters photojournalist was wounded when soldiers beat him as he covered a protest in Kampala against Wine’s detention.
Ronald Kabuye, a spokesman for the Uganda Journalists Association, told The Associated Press that his group would seek court orders restraining the communication of the communication from interfering in their work.
“They are trying to intimidate journalists” ahead of presidential elections in 2021, he said. “The first avenue is to fight in court.”
What are your thoughts?
Image Header Credit: Al Jazeera