Sunday January 24 2010

Mengo: CBS radio will not relocate

By Robert Mwanje


Buganda Kingdom has flatly rejected the government fixed conditions to reopen Central Broadcasting Service [CBS] radio stations, describing them as unrealistic and unconstitutional.

The Kingdom Cabinet Affairs and Information Minister, Mr Charles Peter Mayiga, who said the seat of the Kabaka had not been officially served with the said conditions, would not rule out the kingdom’s unwillingness to operate by those ‘unlawful’ demands.

“We have not been formally informed about that but if it is true, we shall not abide by them. The Kabaka owns shares in CBS on behalf of the people of Buganda which is lawful and constitutional,” Mr Mayiga said on phone. “We shall receive them but nobody is going to operate by that”.
He said the kingdom and the Kabaka in particular enjoys the freedom of deciding the business opportunity he may invest in and where to operate from. “It is unconstitutional for anyone to demand such conditions, CBS is partially owned by the kingdom why do we have to throw it out of Bulange? Nobody should dictate for another where to invest and operate from,” Mayiga added.

The remarks come days after the central government ordered CBS to immediately relocate from Bulange-Mengo, the seat of Buganda kingdom, and disassociate itself from the Kabaka to resume work.

Matsiko’s take
Information and National Guidance Minister Kabakumba Matsiko, the central government’s spokesperson, said it is too early to make a final take on that matter since the negotiation process is still going on.
She, however, wondered by CBS would not operate from outside Bulange saying the kingdom should come out and clarify whether it’s a business or the monarchy’s mouthpiece. “That is the main point of the connotation. Is it [CBS] the kingdom’s mouthpiece or an independent business? They should come out and clarify,” Ms Masiko said on phone yesterday. “I am really perturbed that they can’t operate from outside Bulange but I can’t conclusively tell you this or that”.

Saturday Monitor yesterday quoted sources saying the Cabinet meeting at State House Entebbe chaired by President Museveni on Thursday night agreed to temporarily allow the radio, taken off air nineteen weeks ago, to resume broadcasting - subject to a dozen stiff provisos, among them an explicit apology to government.

Cabinet also resolved to permanently withdraw the station’s license if the mangers do not toe the line preferred by the central government.
But CBS Managing Director Kaaya Kavuma said they had not formally received any thing from government. The government also requires the radio managers to sack all employees accused of inciting the September 10-12 riots in and around Kampala.

The relationship between Mengo and the central government deteriorated last year after the latter blocked the Kabaka from visiting Kayunga in September, causing riots in which 27 people lost their lives and scores were left nursing serious wounds. A section of the minority Banyala was seeking a break away from Buganda. Subsequently, the Broadcasting Council switched off CBS radio accusing it of inciting violence and allegedly promoting sectarianism.

In his New Year message recently, the Kabaka urged his subjects to be courageous and focused in 2010, saying the experiences in 2009 should act as a symbol to tackle challenges ahead. President Museveni has since blamed the bloody events of the time that has heavily strained relations between Buganda kingdom and his ruling NRM government on tribalised incitement by CBS radio in which Mengo owns majority shares.

The State House meeting also settled that disaffected CBS staffers who sued government over closure of the radio immediately abandon litigation or government will freeze dialogue with the broadcaster and let the courts decide.

CBS was also asked to re-apply for a new broadcasting licence after the initial one was revoked during the station’s shutdown some four months ago, ensure that all those people ‘consistently breaching’ the broadcasting standards are dropped and the station’s management should be immediately changed. CBS’s closure has remained a thorny issue for government in the run up to the 2011 poll. The kingdom’s radio was closed with three other stations which have been reopened.