12 January 2012

Uganda: My Radio Uses Nothing From UBC, Says Kutesa

Kampala — Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa yesterday moved to distance his Sembabule-based radio station from any links to Uganda Broadcasting Corporation.

UBC, a public broadcaster, has lately been in the news following revelations that several high government officials, including senior Cabinet ministers had been illegally using its equipment, especially, masts and transmitters to run their private radio stations doted across the country.

Former Minister of Presidency Kabakumba Masiko became the first politician to succumb to pressure and resign her Cabinet job after police found her Masindi-based Kings FM using UBC transmitter deemed to have been stolen from UBC.

Reports yesterday revealed that another 35 ministers were on the police radar for using the UBC equipment without pay thus causing more than Shs50 billion in revenue losses to the public broadcaster.

Police estimate about 200 radio and television stations to be hooked to UBC equipment. The politicians also used UBC generators and electricity for free.

Matter of clarity

But Mr Kutesa, who in October last year, stepped aside from his Cabinet portfolio to allow smooth investigations against him in regard to Chogm related charges brought to him by the IGG and the parliamentary oil probe, told this newspaper that he had to clarify on UBC "because some media outlets are using my name and Mbabule FM".

"Mbabule FM does not owe UBC anything," he said, and added: "We built and own our own mast and all our equipment. To our knowledge, UBC owns nothing in Sembabule District."

Mr Kutesa said he welcomes any investigation but warned that it should be done transparently and without ill-motives. Apparently, the UBC saga has turned political as several camps within the ruling NRM party are reportedly using it to get at each other, a matter that has also put UBC management on the spot for allegedly taking sides. But the police have moved to provide security to all UBC installations as investigators dig into the high profile illegal users.

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