Plot 29-35. 8th street industrial area, Namuwongo, received an unusual visitor on Monday, July 10. It had been more than two years since Don Wanyama signed out of Daily Monitor as Managing Editor after he was shabbily thrown out. The man had never returned to his former employer until this Monday.
Now the senior press secretary to the Ugandan president, Wanyama walked back to Monitor publications headquarters to meet its managing director Tony Glencross, executive editor Charles Bichachi and company lawyer Timothy Ntale. Later to join them is copy editor Lucima Okello.
This should have been a happy reunion as this was a home of Wanyama for about 8 years, and at least three of the men in the room were workmates. Unfortunately, it was not the case.
Watchdog Uganda understands that Wanyama’s assignment was a simple message from President Museveni.
As far as the president is concerned, he never called opposition politicians prostitutes as the Saturday Monitor had alleged. “This is what he said,” he said as he pulled out a recording of about 20 minutes long and played it in the dead silence. Don asked to help him understand if he missed something.
The men looked at themselves, sounded out the newsroom for a good response from people that worked on the Saturday Monitor, writing a bold headline; “Opposition up for sale – Museveni” with a sub heading “Attacked: President Museveni says many members of the opposition are just focused on eating and referred to them as political prostitutes who sell themselves to willing buyers”. The story was written by a one Siraje Lubwama, actually a senior journalist and a well grounded person in Democratic Party circles as he covered the death of the late Kampala mayor Ssebaana Kizito. Museveni had visited his home in Kansanga, a city suburb.
So, Wanyama who asked to be filled in if he missed something, went on to inquire if there was any recording of the event by the reporter, unfortunately, nothing was available in the entire newsroom.
Feeling let down, Glencross complained about the caliber of journalists deployed at events and the tools they go out with.
This website understands that President Museveni is not a fan of Monitor but the newspaper which runs under a commanding promise “Truth Everyday” has always gotten away with hard hitting stories of the president as long as they are factual.
Sometimes, the regime has used cruel tactics like closing it down – or getting police to summon journalists and editors to CID for interrogation. Some of these are regime ways to scare journalists and tone down.
However, few times has a president’s spokesman walked up to the paper to collaborate a story – but to make matters worse for the newspaper managers to have no cover!
Lubwama’s assignment for the next couple of days to look up anyone who has a recording, possibly from his radio or television friends, otherwise, it looks like the newspaper is about to face some sort of embarrassment, especially that the president believes the story came late before a very senior editor ordered that the lead story of the day is dropped before assigning Lucima to do edits on the story.