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Govt now turns heat on CBS FM

The Broadcasting Council has turned the heat on Buganda’s CBS radio for allegedly inciting people during the 12-day kingdom’s standoff with the Vision group newspapers; The New Vision and Bukedde. CBS managers led by Kaaya Kavuma appeared before the Council’s committee on ethics on Monday, August 4 to respond to allegations that the FM station incited Ugandans against government.

The interrogation came barely a day after the standoff between The New Vision and Buganda kingdom was resolved following Vision’s apology to the Kabaka and the withdrawal of a defamation case filed against the paper by the monarch.
 
The standoff that led to the boycott of Vision Group products, was caused by a July 12 Sunday Vision article, “Bulange Title Held” that claimed that the Kabaka had, through his company Rexba, mortgaged the land title of his kingdom’s administrative building, Bulange, in Mengo, while borrowing Shs 1 billion from an NRM minister.
The New Vision published an apology on August 12 after intense negotiations between the two parties.

But prior to that, the paper had also petitioned the Broadcasting Council accusing CBS of inciting people against the company and its products.

On Monday, the committee chaired by, Aggrey David Kibenge quizzed CBS managers over remarks made by some contributors during the Mambo Bado talk show on July 25 in which a speaker asked Baganda to boycott milk and beef from Ankole. The same speaker claimed that since Banyankole leaders “disrespect the Kabaka,” his subjects should retaliate by not buying products from the region.
 
The Council also asked CBS managers to explain the contents of the July 26 Twejukanye programme in which the host, Betty Nambooze spoke about the recent spate of murders in Buganda. She wondered why the Police was “not doing enough” to stop the killings.

A member of the Council said that police had complained about the Twejukanye show.
The committee told CBS managers that by allowing commentators to mobilize people not to buy milk, they had fallen short of the required broadcasting standards.

After a lengthy interrogation, the CBS managers were ordered to leave and wait for the verdict. The Council has in the past shut down stations it claimed had flouted broadcasting rules. Kfm was closed in 2005 over a talk show government deemed to be a danger to regional security.

Godffrey Mutabaazi, the Chairman of the Council, has told The Observer that although the New Vision petition against CBS was mentioned, the meeting was about different issues.

A member of the Council described the meeting as usual persecution. “I think government after establishing its own FM radios thought it had reduced the impact of CBS. The boycott has sent us on the drawing boards,” he said.
The Lukiiko (Buganda’s Parliament), lifted the boycott, but warned people planning to take on the Kabaka or the Baganda to think twice.

Buganda’s Attorney General, Apollo Makubuya said, the Kabaka had in principle accepted the apology which was published in the Sunday Vision.

He silenced voices calling for compensation. “I am opposed to compensating the Kabaka and Buganda. How much should we ask for? A million shillings? Two hundred? Billions of shillings? Getting compensated would mean that the Kabaka can be bought. My worry is that how can it be heard that the Kabaka received so much money in damages. It will give chance to our detractors to go around saying that the Kabaka was silenced for so much,” Makubuya argued.

He said since The New Vision had shown remorse through an apology, the Baganda should forgive but not forget the damage that was occasioned on the Kabaka and the Baganda generally. “I am sure they have learnt their lesson and I believe that next time, they will think twice. But if they do it again, we shall boycott and even take sterner action. I beg the Lukiiko to forgive The New Vision,” he said.

On Tuesday, The New Vision CEO, Robert Kabushenga featured on a talk-show on CBS in which he repeated the apology and asked the kingdom to forget what happened and work together with the paper.
In the same Lukiiko session, it was announced by the Katikkiro John Baptist Walusimbi that this year’s coronation anniversary celebrations will be preceded by prayers throughout Buganda starting with Muslims and Seventh Day Adventists on Friday and Saturday respectively, and then the Christians on Sunday in Lubiri starting at 10am. “We shall pray for the King, Buganda and Uganda,” JB Walusimbi said.

The Observer reported a fortnight ago that the anniversary celebrations had been moved from Buvuma to the more convenient Lubiri to enable the Baganda turn up in huge numbers and show solidarity in demanding for what they truly believe are “their things”. Among others, the Baganda want the 9000 sq miles. In a previous Lukiiko, it was resolved that any talks between the central government and Buganda that do not touch on federalism shall be boycotted by the kingdom. It came in the wake of President Museveni’s announcement that his government will not hold any more talks with Buganda on federalism.

Buganda is also opposed to the expansion of Kampala into the districts of Mpigi and Wakiso arguing that apart from disenfranchising the people of Kampala, the proposed expansion is a complete breach of the Constitution and a violation of the rights of the people of Buganda.

One of Buganda’s grievances that received mention during Monday’s Luiiko was the Shs8 billion owed by the central government to the Kingdom. It was proposed that the central government should be taken to court for failure to pay up. Damaino Lubega who opened the debate on what action should be taken to compel government to pay up, suggested that Buganda’s attorney general should consider taking the matter to court. He was supported by Ssebana Kizito, a special envoy for the Kabaka. He said that all Buganda’s buildings rented by the central government should be put under lock and key until the government pays up.
 
ssemujju@observer.ug
hbogere@observer.ug

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