Dear Colleagues in journalism,
Re: Call for National Duty
I wish to thank all members who travelled from across the country to participate in the general assembly of the Uganda journalists association. This was the biggest gathering of Uganda journalists to discuss our issues; most times we appear to cover other people’s stories.
On behalf of my executive I want to say sorry for what happened when some anti- UJA forces led by a one Steven Ouma who heads a trade union called Uganda journalists union which he has been using to dupe donors that they are the professional body for Uganda journalists stormed our general assembly to terrorise us. He has led this malicious campaign and met his thugs at hotel Tourist hotel who he paid for causing the chaos.
We resolved not to respond to this malice but to my executive sorry but I have run out of patience we have to remove the gloves we have restored UJA and some body is he is a body at all is bent to undoing the achievements made. This guy wants to kill the confidence donors have in UJA and this you can see from the reciepients to his malice.
Last night my media friend Haruna Kanabi called me to say that OUMA made one lecturer at Makerere to cry because of a similar malice and that we should ignore hime but how can we look on when some lumpen in maligning others for selfish reasons. OUMA you know I have data on you including documentary evidence sent to my email by you which proves you are not clean. I have a name to protect, I am consulted on media issues in the greatlakes and Africa world over and I can not be soild by a school drop out who is in the proffesion my accident.
Many of you colleagues have called to express you sympathises because my victory has been delayed. I want to assure the UJA members that my opponent only delayed his loss for a month but it’s just a question of time. He had got some 24 votes againts 126 in my favor but I am investigating how he managed to get the 24 votes I would be the first to sue if the results had been declared how and where did the 24 votes come about.
Why the malice
It should be noted that Uganda journalists association started the process of unionising journalists in the country. That process headed by the secretary for labour then was supported by the International Federation of Journalists.
Later on the leadership of UJA would change and a crooked executive on which Steven Ouma now heading a malicious campaign against UJA was secretary general. What that group did was to divorce the union from UJA and have since been purporting atleast outside Uganda to be the professional body for journalists in Uganda.
Ouma for example wanted to cling to power in UJA and did not attend the assembly that brought my executive to power. I got a landslide victory and two years later the confidence from the journalism fraternity is only growing.
If thugs had not disrupted the exercise your president Joshua Kyalimpa had won with 126 votes against 24 votes for the opponent I am still investigating how he managed to get those 24 votes and I would have petitioned if those results had been declared.
UJA comes to Life
It should be noted that before my executive resurrected UJA some groups had filled the gap and were getting donor support for and on behalf of the journalists. Such groups seek a vibrant UJA as a challenge and are doing their best to discredit not Joshua Kyalimpa and his executive but the whole organisation which has been attracting a lot of interest from the donors.
The malicious mails that have been circulating are not the first and will not be the last. I had been advised to ignore but I have painfully decided to burst out if only it can help make people understand the genesis of this problem.
150 Presidential donations at media dinner
Some negative forces tried to discredit us and UJA on the basis of the 150 million and the fact that we organised the presidential media dinner. There was a lot of debate around the issue and I remember going to different radios and TV’s to defend that decision.
I argued then that it’s not uncommon even in the old democracies for the media to have dinner with the president or even receive support. In the US its an old time tradition, Canada based committee to protect journalists organises a similar dinner and in Germany the same is true.
We won that argument and today the fracas is about how the money was used and that is a simple argument, just come to the general assembly. If some body has doubts about the cost of land in that prime location we are willing to sell it and refund the money. But I am sure the one raising these issues aims at discrediting us.
Today the annual presidential media dinner and National media dialogue is supposed to be the biggest event on the media calendar.
Before the dinner was delayed because of the death of Mzee Binaisa atleast 26 ambassadors in the cluster of friends of the media had confirmed they would attend. Media houses has joined the long list of supporters including some donors agencies where some people had thought they would discredit us on the basis of having dinner with our Uganda president and or accepting a donation from him.
UJA was started in 1963 by Kintu Musoke and others and should have been expected to operate an account .Ouma who was the secretary general and the old UJA executive has to date failed to give us financial details or even tell us the account number. Former president Ahmed Katerega only gave me some old files at a hashed hand over after his scheme to impose Mercy Nalugo failed.
The only records available are from 2008 when my executive opened an account and we made a bold step to make it public for even our detractors to know.
UJA Achievements for the last 2 years
We have managed to make UJA visible and this I want to share the credit with my entire executive for standing together amidst challenges.
1- UJA has an account for the first time known to every body.
2- We managed to clear issues with registration because Ouma and the group made the association to be de-registered purporting that Uganda Journalists Union with headquarters in his bedroom had replaced UJA. We cause a meeting with the founding president Mzee Kintu Musoke who signed the transfer to my executive and we have brought it to life.
3- We have reclaimed the world press freedom day activities since I came to office I am sure many of you join processions on 3rd may.
4- UJA is now the reference point on media issues in Uganda and has sent many people for training or meetings in Uganda and abroad.
a-We seconded Ouma Steven to Go for the international solidarity meeting of unions in the US having been contacted by the US state department
b-We sent two journalists for training in financial reporting in Ghana supported by DW akademie
c- We sent 2 more journalists to same training conducted in Zambia
d-We are sending 2 other journalists to DR Congo for training in News Safety supported by the international news safety institute
e-I participated in the Common wealth journalist’s association assembly in Kuching Malaysia to discuss media issues in the common wealth.
f-Another member of the executive travelled for a UNESCO meeting to discuss climate change.
g-I was appointed to the Uganda national commission for UNESCO committee on information and communication.
h-I represented Uganda journalists association to UN climate talks in Denmark.
5- Local trainings,
a- We conducted a training in peace reporting in conjunction with the East Africa institute for peace and governance
b- We conducted a dialogue on freedom of expression with support from the US government
c- We have conducted trainings in elections reporting for 6 journalists in partnership with the US government
d- With partnership from British council 20 journalists have been trained in climate change reporting
e- We partnered with UN special Rappoteur on the rights of human rights defenders to highlight issues of rights of journalists in Uganda 40 journalists have been trained about their rights.
f- I was part of a selected few people who met the UN high commissioners for human rights when she came to Uganda during the ICC conference
6- Uganda journalists association has taken the leadership of the media. We initiated and steered the formation of a coalition of all media groups called Article 29 Coalition and we have used this to discuss media issues. I am general secretary of the coalition basically the driver
7- UJA presented the views of Journalists on the phone tapping bill to parliament
8- UJA initiated meeting with the minister for information to discuss the proposed media bills and our position has been made loud and clear
9- We are working on a state of the media report to be issued every year with support from different donors
Colleagues I would have gone on and on because what we have done is visible. We have land we are going to set up headquarters in the next two years if allowed by members.A lot has been said about the assembly of Saturday which was stopped. I see a positive to it. I have argued in different Fora that all journalists members of UJA need to pay membership so that they can get UJA cards.
Yesterday hooligans demanded that every body must vote even without cards we stood our ground and that was not allowed. Now every body agrees that any association must have paid up members and that is what is provided for in the constitution. So who wanted none members to vote certainly not Joshua Kyalimpa or may executive.
We are happy that reason has prevailed. Let me urge all members to please renew membership so you can be part of history.
My victory which was delayed is bound to be bigger I am praying hard that the opponent does not chicken out. When the opponent was nominated by OUMA who told the East Africa Journalists Association meeting recently that UJA is dead and his brief case organisation is the one which represents journalists we knew the scheme is to kill UJA. Iam in touch with IFJ and a decision is about to be made watch the space they almost made the decion in Morocco recently but hold a minute
I am now calling all Journalists to action to defend our Association and the Profession by renewing membership and coming to the next assembly
Joshua Kyalimpa is a Uganda based International Journalist,President of Uganda Journalists Association, a member of the UNESCO committee of Experts on Communication and Information, a Talk show Host and Media consultant. I have written several papers on Corruption, Human rights,Democracy and the Media.
Mobile contact +256-772-640004 Office +256-414662163 +256-312-337000