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Ugandan Minister to Face Censure over Radio Equipment

  • Douglas Mpuga

A Ugandan minister is under pressure to resign amid allegations that beginning in 2009 her private radio station illegally used the equipment of the public station the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC).

Minister for Presidency Kabakumba Masiko denies the allegations and says she will not resign over what she calls unfounded and untrue allegations.

Some members of parliament are threatening to censure her if she does not resign from both the parliament and the Cabinet.

The media recently reported that police had discovered a private radio station, King’s FM, based in Masindi, western Uganda, and believed to be owned by the minister, illegally using the UBC radio mast and transmitter.

“The allegation is very serious because it verges on serious offences of abuse of office, causing financial loss and theft of government property,” said Wilfred Niwagaba, the member of parliament for Ndorwa East and one of those members drafting the censure motion.

He dismissed Masiko’s explanation in parliament Wednesday, where she said that UBC had leased some of the equipment to her radio station. “The explanation she has given is a general denial of the offence of theft. We find that explanation vague, generally evasive and does not address the root of the matter.”

The minister, he said, “never even gave us the copy of the lease agreement.” Yet the information submitted by the police, added Niwagaba, “is that [this] equipment were taken without authority from UBC and have been used for the last three years without any agreement with national broadcaster.”

Niwagaba also disputed the minister’s assertion that she did not own the radio station initially but came on board later before she became a minister. “But records we are yet to get from the registrar of companies are to the effect that she is the original shareholder, controlling up to 75 percent stake in the radio [station].”

“I can authoritatively tell you that the censure process is ongoing,” said Niwagaba. “We are still gathering signatures [of members of parliament] and we hope by Friday we shall have gathered enough and then launch our censure motion, unless if by then she will have resigned.”

He also faulted the executive for not doing enough to fight corruption among senior government officials. “Daily stories of corruption are not only embarrassing but humiliating. My own opinion,” said Niwagaba, “is that the executive is not doing enough on matters of allegations of corruption, especially on its own officials.”

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