The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) this week suspended licences of 23 FM radio stations for what they called airing witchcraft content as promotional material. Airing such content, UCC said, aids and abets electronic fraud contrary to sections 19 and 21 of the Computer Misuse Act, 2011.
Christians who celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ today will perhaps take this as good news from a purely spiritual perspective.
According to the statement that UCC released, the closed radio stations are drawn almost from each region of the country.
The suspension, UCC said, came close to a month after UCC gave 10 working days to five radio stations to refund all money lost by different people as a result of promoting and advertising witch doctors.
These radio stations were also requested to write letters of undertaking not to air the said content again.
A good number of people have registered cases with the police for being conned by the fake witch doctors after hearing their sham testimonies on different radio stations. Unfortunately, a number of victims to these fake witch doctors find it hard to recover their money and property because they can’t adduce evidence on how they handed over the “tithe” to the doctors.
According to a police detective who once handled a case involving a witch doctor and his “client”, it was difficult to successfully prosecute the suspected witch doctor because he denied all the allegations during interrogation and asked for documentary evidence.
The detective said that witch doctors operate under the cover of darkness and disguise their voices. All this is done to prove to the client the presence of supernatural powers and traditional spirit. Some victims have been raped during the witch doctors’ ‘operations’ and some have ended up being forced to sell off their property to get money for cleansing.
UCC in its release cites an example of a complainant from Buikwe District who was conned of Shs1.4m that was sent through mobile money to a purported traditional healer that advertised her services on a certain radio station in return for a promised fortune and good luck.
But, I pose to ask, do the officials at UCC know that a similar trend is happening with the mushrooming fake Pentecostal churches?
Due to competition for followers, a number of born again churches have established FM radio and television stations to market their activities. Many Pentecostal churches are currently managed as individuals’ business enterprises. This has forced some of these individuals to stage-manage testimonies of miraculous happenings they have ostensibly performed in order to attract more followers.
A case was filed last month at Wandegeya Police Station by followers of a certain pastor who confessed before police detectives how the pastor had offered them Shs1m each as a monthly package to fake testimonies.
Media reports noted that these close associates or followers of this pastor involved the police after developing a misunderstanding with the pastor. They informed police that they had been in this ‘business’ since 2004.
You will also have heard of pastors who have been equated to God! This is done to gain an edge over competitors.
When it comes to crossover nights, especially at December 31 of every year, each Pentecostal church makes it a point to have more followers than others. The efforts used include faking miracles and testimonies.
Is UCC aware of all these happenings?
I challenge UCC to reign in these fake pastors by first regulating their radio and TV stations. We shall then know that UCC’s application of the law is not selective.