People running with hands lifted up, blocked road and people stranded in traffic, school children stranded at their schools, burning vehicles, hit and run battles between Baganda youth not excluding the injured and dead etc were all scenes in Kampala.
Thursday 10th to Saturday 12th September 2009 have been days of running battles between the government (police) and Baganda loyalists over the refusal to allow the Kabaka (Buganda’s traditional king) to visit Kayunga, a district said to be having minority Baganda. This did not only bring business to a stand still and force people to stay in their homes but has lead to the closure of three radio stations, arrest of one journalist and burning of Ebimeeza (radio broadcast forums where people meet on weekends to discuss currents issues).
The Ebimeeza are forums that have given Ugandans the ability to easily and quickly transmit their opinions on public policy or any current issues hence have increased the role of citizens in influencing policy making, (call it citizen Journalism).
While not condoning riots, the closure of media houses and arrest of journalists confirms that journalism freedom is still limited. As much as Uganda may boost or be rated among the 15 countries in Africa with the freest press, liberalized airwaves and open space for discussion in the public, the extent to which this true is limited to whether what is being reported or discussed threatens government’s sovereignty.
Burning of Ebimeeza has implications to the growth of citizen journalism in the country and the continued closure of media houses and arrest of journalist infringes on the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the media to inform or educating the public.