27 October 2006

Uganda: New Vision Chief Editor Resigns

Kampala — THE New Vision's Editor-in-Chief, Mr David Sseppuuya, has thrown in the towel at the government owned daily, less than two weeks after the paper's Chief Executive Officer, Mr William Pike, resigned.

Sseppuuya cited personal reasons for his resignation.

The veteran journalist, who started out as a sports scribe 19 years ago, tendered in his resignation on Wednesday to the newspaper's board chaired by Brig. Noble Mayombo.

Mayombo is the Ministry of Defence Permanent Secretary.

"I have made a personal decision to move on to other things," Sseppuuya (in picture) explained in a press statement issued yesterday. "I have had 19 wonderful years at the New Vision and it has built me and made me what I am today."

The editor has offered the board two months notice in which he will effect his resignation. But the resignation comes less than 14 days after the company's Chief Executive Officer William Pike, was reportedly forced to resign apparently at the behest of President Yoweri Museveni.

However, a source at the New Vision told Daily Monitor two weeks ago that after the announcement of Pike's resignation, Mayombo, contacted Sseppuuya and two other top editors; John Kakande and Ben Opolot and assured them they would not be sacked.

Media Centre Director Robert Kabushenga was immediately appointed to take over from Pike.

New information, however, emerged yesterday and suggested that Kabushenga would simply assume a 'care-takers' role. A source said Kabushenga "will be overseeing the position for three months and then the job will be re-advertised."

A Belgian journalist, Els De Temmerman had been tipped to replace Sseppuuya. But a press statement issued by Pike yesterday announced that Ms Barbara Kaija, would act as Editor-in-Chief. Kaija has been the deputy Editor-in-chief.

Kabushenga, who joins the company as the Deputy Chief Executive on November 1, said, "I want to reassure staff and the public that there is no threat to anyone's employment because of these changes. It is unfortunate that he [Sseppuuya] has made a personal decision to leave. However, I am confident the New Vision will continue to be a strong, credible and profitable newspaper in the years to come."

The statement also said Kabushenga would takeover the CEO position in January 2007.

In a telephone interview with the Daily Monitor, Pike denied claims suggesting that Sseppuuya had been forced to resign or had resigned to pre-empt an impending sack.

He instead disclosed that there were unsuccessful attempts to keep Sseppuuya at the paper. "Neither the Board of Directors nor management had requested Mr Sseppuuya to leave. His decision was personal. He was at no risk of losing his employment at the New Vision," Pike said.

However, Sseppuuya insisted on quitting.

Sseppuuya joined The New Vision almost two decades ago as a freelance sports writer.

He rose through the ranks to become sports editor, features editor, associate editor, and deputy editor-in-chief before becoming editor-in-chief last year. He replaced Pike who until then doubled as CEO and editor-in-chief.

Sources said Sseppuuya's exit is rooted in the fact that he was, like Pike, liberal in his political views. His detractors had a ready weapon in his academic qualifications.

According to new human resource guidelines at the New Vision, all heads of department are supposed to hold a Master's degree while Sseppuuya holds a Bachelors degree. On Independence Day, Museveni vowed to "sort-out" the New Vision and said the paper had been "very useless for a very long time."

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