SUUBI FM, one of the four Ugandan FM stations closed during the September riots in the central region (Buganda), has sacked four presenters in an attempt to persuade the government to reopen it, writes Dennis Itumbi for journalism.co.za.


The public had been made to believe that a public apology to President Yoweri Museveni, police chief Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura and the Chairman of the Broadcasting Council, Godfrey Mutabaazi, was all Suubi needed to do to come back on air.

The station, however, remains shut two weeks after one of its proprietors and manager, Ahmed Bogere Masembe, addressed a news conference at which he read out the apology, raising questions about the pressure being put by the state on radio owners.

"It is now clear that on top of the apology, the station must fire presenters blacklisted by the state," Kisarale Joseph a human rights activist told journalism.co.za.

He added: "There is no question about it the presenters who aggressively covered the events leading to and after the September 10-12 riots are being targeted."

The riots began when the state blocked Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebbi II, king of the seven million-strong Buganda Kingdom, from traveling to Kayunga, one of the 15 districts making up his kingdom, to preside over an annual youth day.

The traditional ruler and many of his people are demanding a federal status that will give them some autonomy from the central government as it used to be shortly after independence up to 1966. Museveni is opposed to this idea.

Four radio stations, including Suubi, were switched off on the first and second day of the riots. Radio Sapiensa (Catholic Church) and Akaboozi ku Bbiri (private) have since been reopened.

CBS, the biggest station in the country owned by the Buganda Kingdom, remain shut and has gone to court.

Suubi FM will most likely be reopened after the state has extracted enough concessions from it.

On Monday, November 16, the manager summoned four of his staff: Mukwaba Katende (reporter/presenter), Kazibwe Bashir Mbaiira (chief news editor), Deo Walusimbi (reporter) and Aiden Mukasa Tamale (reporter/presenter) and informed them he was under instruction from the Broadcasting Council to fire them.