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Busoga journalists decry poor pay at places of work

The journalists revealed this on Wednesday during an engagement with the Uganda Media Center (UMC) led by its director and government spokesperson Mr Ofwono Opondo.

Mr Ofwono Opondo in a group photo with some journalists in Busoga sub-region after the meeting on Wednesday, May 10, 2023 (Photo/Isabirye Simon Peter)

IGANGA, UGANDA: A section of journalists in the Busoga sub-region have decried the poor pay at their places of work and tough working conditions which happens to compromise their ethical standards while executing their duties.

The journalists revealed this on Wednesday during an engagement with the Uganda Media Center (UMC) led by its director and government spokesperson Mr Ofwono Opondo.

The engagement which took place at Iganga district headquarters in the council hall targeted a section of reporters, talk show hosts, news editors, and managers from four districts of Iganga, Bugiri, Namutumba and Namayingo. Others included proprietors and some panellists who always share views on radio shows.

A lot of challenges were raised by journalists which included but were not limited to poor pay, working under tough conditions without appointment letters(contracts), failure by the government to introduce a minimum wage, and intimidation from their bosses.

“We have a challenge that there is no minimum wage in Uganda and some media houses are owned by selfish individuals, politicians and religious leaders who have totally failed to pay their workers. The reason why many journalists are crossing to the opposition is due to the poor working conditions at our workplace, so I request the media centre to ensure that these issues are addressed,” said Mr Miika Mudoola, a talk show host at Apex FM.

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Ms Aisha Namataka, the manager of Eye FM radio in Iganga Municipality raised matters where different non-government organizations (NGOs) hide in the office of the RDCs to use free airtime citing that the money which could be gained out of such shows is lost hence sending the stations in financial crisis which can’t enable smooth facilitation of the stations.

“Uganda Communications Commission(UCC) requires us to allocate free airtime to gov’t which goes to RDC’s office but sometimes NGOs hide in this office to access free airtime yet they are not connected to gov’t. We end up losing money which could be used for the smooth running of the stations, therefore there is a need to emphasize on this Mr Opondo,” Ms Namataka said.

However, Mr Ofwono Opondo in response said the major aim of this engagement was to inform journalists that they can use the media centre to access information from the government, to know the challenges journalists face while executing their duties and to see that journalists can cooperate with government agencies in disseminating information with professionalism.

Govt Spokesperson Ofwono Opondo addressing a section of Busoga journalists during the engagement meeting

He observed that a number of journalists work without pay and in a tough environment which includes intimidation from their bosses and some sources who report them to their bosses so as to terminate their jobs. He pledged to engage the UCC and government to address some issues hindering good service by the media practitioners.

“I heard that many journalists are not paid and don’t have appointment letters, something which bleaches labour laws which state that you can’t employ someone for more than 6 months without giving him/her an appointment letter. I will forward this matter to UCC and government in the upcoming meeting of next month between President Museveni and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB),” Mr Opondo said.

He said that it’s a collective responsibility to mobilize Ugandans to embrace government programs citing that gov’t cannot reach the common people without involving journalists. He also urged them to hold government and public authorities to account through their journalist’s associations by doing checks and balances after understanding government programs.

“It’s very important to have one voice to solve issues where journalists’ rights are abused. Why would we have human rights abuses like unlawful detentions and prolonged detentions if journalists’ associations were inspecting prisons and police cells together routinely?” Mr. Opondo questioned.

Meanwhile, Iganga Resident District Commissioner Mr Wandera Sadala advised all journalists to always be patriotic by putting their country first before themselves and to disseminate information that builds society and promotes cohesion amongst Ugandans through carrying out investigative journalism for balanced reporting.

He also encouraged journalists to report cases of intimidation by politicians and media houses that don’t give them contracts so that his office can engage the concerned authorities to address such concerns.

The meeting also attracted the LCV chairperson Iganga Mr Gabula Ezera, deputy RDC Iganga Mr Mwanje Eddy, Iganga municipal town clerk Mr Kasala Dan, Administrative secretary NRM Iganga Mr Nabbala Tonny, former Iganga municipal mayors Hajji Katono Siraji and Hajji Ismael Kyeyago who is the chief prince of Kigulu chiefdom in Busoga Kingdom, among others.

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