2 May 2014

Uganda: Spice FM Manager Fired for Hosting Opposition Politicians

press release

Spice FM radio in Hoima, Western Uganda has fired its station Manager, Geoffrey Magezi for hosting opposition politicians. Magezi, who has managed the station for over two years, was verbally dismissed on 15 April 2014.

On Saturday, 12 April 2014, between 9:20pm- 10:30pm local time, the station hosted the former opposition leader of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party, Dr. Kizza Besigye, the leader of the FDC Women's league Ingrid Turinawe and the Democratic Party President Norbert Mao, among others, to discuss electoral reforms in the run-up to the 2016 general elections.

"The problem was hosting Kizza Besigye without his (Edgar Agaba's) consent. Since I was the manager, someone needed to be blamed and the blame ended up in a sacking... our hosting of the politicians followed a recent Memorandum of Understanding between the opposition politicians and the police not to stop such fora," Magezi told HRNJ-Uganda in an interview.

The station proprietor, Edgar Agaba denied firing Magezi for hosting the opposition politicians. "That's not the reason, but he flouted the rules of the station like recording down the numbers of politicians before hosting them, writing down the talking points for the host to follow and balancing the show by hosting someone from government among others.

He failed to live by the rules of the station, so I terminated his services. I can't stand that at my radio; you can quote me on this," Agaba told HRNJ-Uganda.

In March this year, police stormed two radio stations in Western Uganda and ordered the untimely stopping of the talk shows, while the politicians were blocked from accessing two other stations within the region.

Restricting the free flow of information is an inhibition to freedom of expression.

We call upon media proprietors to engage with their staff on regulatory procedures and standards rather than resorting to radical measures, said Robert Ssempala, the National Coordinator, HRNJ-Uganda.

- Human Rights Network for Journalists - Uganda

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