KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Uganda Communications Commission-UCC has asked radio and television stations to avail airtime to government officials to mobilize people for Covid-19 vaccination.
In a letter dated December 23rd, 2021, and signed by Suzan Wegoye, UCC acting Executive Director, the Commission says it is implementing a directive issued by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on November 15.
The letter reads in part: “The president directed that Resident City Commissioners and Resident District Commissioners and District Health Officers appear on broadcasting stations; radios and TVs at 8:00PM every Wednesday and Sunday 8:00-8:30 pm to mobilize the masses to go for Covid-19 vaccinations. Uganda Communication Commission received a letter from the minister of ICT and National Guidance relaying the Presidential directive regarding media campaign for the mass Covid-19 vaccination… The Commission hereby brings the above presidential directive to your attention and directs you to cooperate and facilitate the implementation of the above-mentioned directive on your airwaves.”
However, speaking to Uganda Radio Network, Captain Francis Babu, the owner of Metro FM and a member of the National Association of Broadcasters called the directive unfortunate not only because that UCC dictates the time and day when the programs should be held but also because that it is hard to have government people attend programs on radios and TVs.
Shocked by UCC’s apparent lack of awareness of what the stations are broadcasting, Capt Babo said: “Haven’t you been listening to our radios and TVs, and you heard we have been having Covid-19 messages; have they been directing us to do what we are doing? I feel somebody is not informing the President of the work we are doing. We have been doing the work without being paid and someone is not grateful at all. Therefore, it’s unfortunate that they have written that letter but I want to tell them they will not dictate the time because we have been calling government people and they have not been coming. So they want us to designate blocks of time and they don’t turn up?”
Currently, UCC mandates every broadcast station to give one hour of airtime every week to government people to explain their programs.
Speaking to Uganda Radio Network, Imelda Mirembe, a senior communication officer at the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance said UCC is just implementing a directive of the President. She said that they are in communication with the ministry of health to ensure that they provide officials who can go to these radio stations to mobilize people for vaccination.
“The President is the one who issued the directive on these programmes; when they should run and the people to feature on these shows because he wants people to get vaccinated now that we are geared towards full reopening of the economy,” Mirembe said. “We are hoping that people embrace vaccination so that we can resume having our normal lives.”