Saturday July 26 2014

MPs, media should keep researching

By Mark Mwesiga

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah came out last week to say that lack of research is affecting the quality of parliamentary debate.

According to him, Members of Parliament are always politicking, instead of discussing real issues of development.

He also criticised the media for giving Uganda poor publicity which affects ourism and investment. Regardless of the basis of these comments, he was spot on and should be praised for coming out strongly.

One can easily count the unresearched stories that have originated from Parliament in recent times. These stories normally appeal to social networks and spread as fast as wild fires in Uganda.

In our country and perhaps in the contemporary world, people have keen interest for “bad” news.

Any story that portrays injustice, cruelty, shame, inequality, deception, rage, theft or conflict spreads faster and generates more debate.

It is disheartening that some of these stories do not necessarily carry the truth.

It has been said by some people that in Uganda, anything can happen! Some people, therefore, jump to conclusions without giving rumors, errors or hearsay any benefit of doubt.

In other words, what some people have termed as ‘wolokoso’ is what is driving major debates in Uganda.

Such stories do not only arouse wrong emotions among the public but also tarnish images of organisations and personalities.

The media is not short of stories of leaders who have been falsely accused and publicly hated only to be exonerated by courts of law.

One can only imagine that there could be some people who have been denied employment in companies and organisations based on wolokoso.

In some instances, decisions based on falsehoods have affected would be thriving relationships, families and marriages.

Whereas the urge for stories that appeal to emotion is on great demand, let all in charge be alert to avert alarmist tendencies. There is need for those charged with shaping public perception to do due diligence.

Mark Mwesiga,