Masaka, 28th/Feb/2011; a presenter at Masaka based Top radio Ssozi Lyazi Ssekimpi is reported to have been sacked under duress over a talk show which discussed electoral malpractices witnessed during presidential and parliamentary elections.
Ssekimpi who joined Top radio four years ago has been working as an editor and programme presenter of a weekly talk show ‘voice of the people’ aired between 11am-1pm local time.
Ssekimpi’s sacking happened immediately after appearing before Masaka police for questioning on 28th/Feb/2011 at 10am over the Saturday 26th/Feb/2011 talk show which discussed the February 18th election violence and other malpractices.
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has learnt that the Saturday show called ‘the voice of the people’ discussed the arrest of Masaka district returning officer Ephraim Tugume after taking a bribe from a candidate who lost an election.
A returning officer is a public servant appointed to head electoral issue at the district.
“We questioned the integrity of the embattled returning officer who declared the highly contested declaration of the Speaker of Parliament Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi as a winner for Bukoto East parliamentary seat” narrated Ssekimpi.
Ssekimpi told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda that he was interrogated by three detectives for seven hours after which he was charged with inciting violence
Sources told HRNJ-Uganda that Ssekimpi‘s sacking was influenced by the alleged letter dated 28th/Feb/2011 addressed to radio manager Pr. Beatrice W. Kitende from key personalities in the government . However, HRNJ-Uganda has not obtained the letter yet.
When contacted the radio’s managing director Pr. Beatrice Kitende confirmed the suspension of Ssekimpi however, denied having received the alleged letter.
“We suspended him for being summoned by police and a complaint from the outgoing Member of Parliament for Bukoto East Alintuma Nsambu. We are meeting as radio management on this Friday 4th-March-2011 to study the content of the talk show” Said Pr. Kitende.
She said the meeting will also be attended by officials from police and key personalities who listened to the show.
Sources added that the letter directed the Radio manager to suspend Ssekimpi from conducting any activity of the radio including gathering news and modulate a talk show for a period of three months.
“It’s absurd that radio managers in Uganda are being used by those in authority to silence critical voices. In a period less than three years more 20 critical journalists have been sacked under duress resulting into self censorship ranging from editorial, newsrooms and programming” said Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala.
Although the employer has the right to recruit and sack a worker, HRNJ-Uganda challenges the Top radio management team investigating Ssekimpi to adhere to principles of natural justice including to accord him a fair hearing
HRNJ-Uganda is also urging proprietors and Managers of media houses to avoid succumbing to external pressure and ignoring the media ethics and objective reporting.
For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road – Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala
Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627