Sam A. Rwakoojo, the Secretary Electoral Commission, has urged media practitioners to work together to enhance democracy, good governance, stability and prosperity of Uganda.
Rwakoojo was Tuesday morning meeting members of Online Media Publishers (OMPA) Association at Hotel Africana in Kampala.
He thanked journalists for covering the launch of the strategic plan and Roadmap for the 2020/2021 General Elections on 11th December 2018.
One of the strategies that the Commission has employed to mobilize stakeholder support for the Roadmap activities is regular engagement with various stakeholders in the electoral process, he said.
“Among these are scheduled training workshops at National and Regional levels for the media personnel so as to equip them with knowledge of the electoral process to enable improvement in the area of election reporting.”
The Electoral Commission launched the Roadmap for the 2020/2021 General Elections on 11th December 2018, and thereafter the Commission embarked on implementation of the same.
“We therefore consider it very crucial for media practitioners to have deeper understanding of the roadmap and the processes involved, in order to ease your information and education functions.”
He said the Commission is mindful of the varied expectations of the electorate and other stakeholders, concerning the upcoming elections, particularly the conduct of credible, free and fair elections.
The Commission is indeed committed to deliver on its crucial mandate, Rwakoojo pledged.
“However, the conduct of the media as a whole but online media in particular on how it covers the elections and the role the media will play in keeping the Country united during and after elections will be equally scrutinised – hence the importance of this meeting, to prepare ourselves and learn from one another on how to deliver credible service to the electorate.”
He added: “As a country which is at the point of making critical decisions concerning its leadership, we count on you to promote awareness among the national and international community, about the readiness of Ugandans for a smooth electoral exercise.”
Rwakoojo promised peaceful fraud-free elections noting that the Commission has built and continues to build capacity at all levels, to meet the legal, technological, logistical and administrative challenges which often come with polling day and post polling processes.
“We count on you to project Uganda in a positive way, that is, as a people who are committed to peaceful electoral process.”
He asked online media to promote balanced and objective coverage of the roadmap, explaining that the media can often unintentionally (or intentionally) incite violence through unbalanced, inaccurate or inflammatory reporting.
“We therefore, urge you to exercise the highest level of professionalism during our electoral journey to the 2020/2021 general elections.”
He said the Commission is committed to media safety, and will be developing guidelines aimed at enhancing media safety during the electoral process.
This includes briefing all stakeholders in the electoral process on media rights as well as their responsibilities, presence and security.
In partnership with the Media Council, the regulatory authority and media, the Commission will develop guidelines for media personnel, to enhance awareness among practitioners on their rights, roles and duties during the electoral process.
“A peaceful electoral process is a product of the effort of all stakeholders; the Commission acknowledges and appreciates you for supporting the electoral process to-date.”
He added: “Your invaluable contribution has enabled us to successfully organize, conduct and conclude previous elections and by elections on schedule.”