Govt spokesperson should take charge

Dr Chris Baryomunsi. Photo | File

What you need to know:

The issue: Government communication

Our view: It would be prudent enough to let the work of communication from the government be done by the designated spokesperson/s if we are to avoid confusion on which way to take

Earlier this week, we had conflicting messages from two Cabinet ministers on the same matter; striking Arts teachers, a scenario that left many wondering whether the government has designated spokesperson/s.

As the teachers’ strike entered week three, Local Government minister Raphael Magyezi warned that if the teachers did not  return to the classroom by end of business last Monday, they should be considered sacked.

At the same time, his Public Service counterpart, Wilson Muruli Mukasa, made a U-turn and said the government wouldn’t give the striking teachers an ultimatum to return to the classroom. He added that the government was open for dialogue with the relevant teachers’ professional bodies.

The two contradicting statements from Cabinet ministers speaks volumes about the underlying uncoordinated movement of troops within government.

It is unhealthy for the public because, being the end consumers of this uncoordinated information, they get confused on whom to believe and which directive to implement.

How did this happen? We are asking this pertinent question because the government has a spokesperson or information minister; Dr Chris Baryomunsi. The minister of Information should have communicated the true position of the government on the striking Arts teachers.

The core role of a government spokesperson is to organise press meetings and talk to the media.

But before giving a press interview, the government spokesperson has to discuss the report with the relevant line ministers, heads of agencies to get the true position of the subject matter they are to communicate to the public.

It is true ministers have the authority to speak to the public about new developments under their docket but when it comes to a national issue, it’s appropriate that the designated government spokesperson takes the lead on communicating the public the true position of government.

Of course, during a crisis of sorts, the government spokesperson should regularly give updates on the matter to minimise the anxiety among the populace but also give direction on what should or shouldn’t be done.

 Earlier, Vice President Jessica Alupo had held a maiden meeting with the leaders of the striking Arts teachers which ended in a stalemate.

This means that the strike was still on at least by press time yesterday and the adamant striking teachers had not yet been sacked, leaving minister Magyezi looking bad in the eyes of the public.

It would be prudent enough to let the work of communication from the government be done by the designated spokesperson/s if we are to avoid confusion on which way to take.

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