8 September 2017

Uganda: Lokodo's Porn Fight Is Costly Duplication

editorial

The government, through the ministry of Ethics and Integrity, has purchased a machine or software that it says will help in fighting pornography at the cost of Shs 2bn.

The minister responsible, Simon Lokodo, also launched a committee whose raison d'etre is to monitor and fight the production and distribution of pornographic material.

While the government is right to get concerned about immorality in the country, it can't claim to have an answer for everything. Pornography is not the most pressing problem at the moment; so, spending lavishly on fighting it doesn't make much sense.

Besides, through already established institutions such as the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and Uganda Media Council, to some extent, the government is already playing the role of moral police. If existing measures have failed, duplication is not the answer.

UCC, for instance, has been at the forefront of monitoring content on broadcasting and online outlets, and recently suspended the licence of controversial ABS TV for allegedly breaching broadcasting standards.

So, what is left for the pornography committee to do?

Moreover, we have not been told how Lokodo's machine is supposed to detect pornography. Does it require a machine or software, for instance, to detect pornography in print media or on home-made CDs or DVDs?

So, why have we spent so much money on it and why are we presenting it as some kind of magic bullet?

The government should concentrate on its core mandate, which is to improve the lives of its people, and leave moral policing to more competent institutions such as parents, families, education institutions and religious groups.

Nevertheless, the government can play a supporting role to these institutions, which are clearly better placed and wield higher moral authority to inculcate morals in people.

However, the government can step in more proactively where children are being exposed to immorality and need protection. As for adults, it is a tall order trying to enforce the same moral code on everyone.

Therefore, given that a legal framework within which to combat pornography already exists, a parallel effort that rotates around a machine and a committee was uncalled for. It will only add to the burden the Ugandan taxpayer is carrying.

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