H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the President of the Republic of Uganda, and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Uganda,
The UPDF, Police, and Other Security Officials Present,
The State House and other distinguished Public Officials Present,
The Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) Executive Committee Present,
The journalists and their Regional coordinators from the different parts of the country Present,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I salute you in the name of the Almighty God, who has enabled us to make this rare event come to pass.
I profoundly commend everyone who has in one way or another contributed to the success of this symposium. May God abundantly bless you.
In Matthew, chapter 22, the bible talks about a great man who invited people for a party but they didn’t honour his invitation. All he did was to gather people from the streets to eat the food he had prepared given that the visitors didn’t turn up.
Your Excellency, I’m delighted to inform you that majority of the invited journalists didn’t disappoint us and are with us here. Please members, let’s clap for ourselves. …thank you so much!
The symposium, dubbed “Socio-economic transformation for journalists” that started on Monday 6, and is ending today February 11, 2023, has seen journalists learn several things from the various facilitators we have had right from day one.
It’s against this background that I take this opportunity to spiritedly laud the Head of State, His Excellency President Museveni for, among other activities, deeming it necessary to engage journalists, and listen to our institutional and individual concerns.
Despite the various dire challenges encountered in our industry, it’s worth recognising that since the NRM government liberalized the media sector in the early 1990s, there has been increased pluralism and diversity, with several media platforms being established in the different parts of the country to serve the respective communities.
In the same vein, I would like to use this forum to commend journalists who have weathered all the occupational hazards in a bid to serve this country in the distinct ways.
In spite the pivotal role journalists have played in the social, economic and political transformation of this country through information dissemination, we have been left in dire poverty and distress.
The media liberalisation that led to proliferation of media outlets in Uganda also came with challenges whereby some media houses are paying little or nothing to their journalists.
As journalists, we also sympathise with our respective employers given their high operational costs that leave them with meagre resources to pay workers. As a result, we believe this situation will not abruptly change, and yet, we have to continue serving the public in the various aspects.
Your Excellency, the poor welfare among majority journalists has prompted many to compromise their professional ethics in a bid to seek survival. This is dangerous to our country as a fact that journalists have access to large audiences and thus, their subjective influence on the public can be devastating.
Your Excellency Sir, given that you’re here with us, we would like to present to you two requests that we believe can enable journalists enhance their welfare and boost their morale to disseminate developmental messages on the various government programmes.
- Financial Capital. We are optimistic that if journalists get financial support, we can use it to engage in agriculture and other side income generating ventures to boost our financial status. Journalists have the capacity to engage in activities such as poultry keeping, piggery, mushroom growing, and other media profession related activities such as videography and photography, Graphics design, among others. This notwithstanding, some journalists have vast land for commercial plantations.
- Scholarships. Several journalists are poorly paid owing to their level of education. We kindly request you to consider journalists in a special way in this regard. This will not only enable journalists advance in their careers but also upgrade the quality of journalism in Uganda.
With those two requests, Your Excellency, you will have secured the future of several journalists in this country.
On behalf of the journalists, Your Excellency, I would like to assure you after 2 to 3 years, you will meet these Journalists in a better financial state than they are today.
Once again I appreciate you, Mr. President for granting us (your Bazukulu) the opportunity to voice our concerns in your presence, and we pray that you rescue us from this situation.
I also thank everyone present, and pray to God to grant us journey mercies as we return to our respective destinations.
Thank you so much for listening to me.
FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY