Security Minister, Gen Elly Tumwine, has appealed to the media to stop attacking security organs and accusing them of battering journalists.
He said that the recent cases of press maltreatment could have been by mistake and does not represent the general conduct of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces.
He was speaking to journalists who had gathered at the Office of the Prime Minister conference hall, Tuesday evening, in Kampala for an engagement on media relations with security.
He said that the UPDF is largely a disciplined force that enjoys a cordial relationship with the public, adding that such a relationship can not be left to be compromised.
“I want to appeal to you that these blanket attacks on security are not good for the country, you also need security by the way. There is no way I can say that no soldier will make a mistake because they are not angels,” said Gen Tumwine.
“The historical record which has made UPDF an outstanding army in Africa, is discipline of our officers, but that doesn’t stop them from making mistakes. It is better to first study the cause of the mistake before blaming the effect,” he added.
Gen Tumwine said that in a riot, several people including children and other innocent people, journalists inclusive, could be affected adding that people who champion the riots should take the blame first.
“In a riot, I can not guarantee you that no soldier will touch a journalist or that mistakes will not happen, but, we need to take necessary precautions. The bitter truth is, when you go to cover a riot, be prepared for any occupational hazard that could befall you,” he added.
He was however quick to say that he doesn’t encourage soldiers to beat journalists since they play a cardinal role in providing information to the public.
This engagement came a couple of days after soldiers and policemen clobbered several journalists covering the Arua municipality by-election and protests in Kampala. A number of reporters among others Herbert Zziwa, James Akena and Joshua Mujunga were badly beaten and their gadgets confiscated by security personnel.
When giving their contributions, some journalists asked for explanations into the increased “impunity” with which officers manhandle members of the fourth estate as well as requesting security organs to provide medical treatment to the injured Journalists.
On Bobi Wine’s ‘People Power’ slogan characterised by claims that “this generation belongs to the youth”, Gen Tumwine said that only partnership between the old and young people is required for the development of the country.
“I hear of the generational war between the young and the old, but my advice is, do not antagonise the old people, do not threaten and intimidate them. Like I have said, they can be dangerous since they are strong both politically and financially. It is better to work as partners,” Tumwine explained.
On their welfare, Gen Tumwine encouraged media practitioners to form cooperative organisations, so as to aid routine saving, borrowing and investment.