BY ALEX BALUKU
Kasese, July 17, 2023 – Journalists in Kasese have been urged to write articles and broadcast pieces that highlight the tourism potential of the district.
Kasese, located in western Uganda, is renowned for its diverse natural wonders, including the Queen Elizabeth National Park, the Rwenzori Mountains, the Katwe salt lakes, the Kazinga Channel, and Lakes Edward and George.
During a press conference held at the Kasese Municipal Hall on Monday, Lieutenant Joe Walusimbi, the Kasese Resident District Commissioner, emphasized the importance of media practitioners promoting the abundant tourist sites in the area. Lt. Walusimbi expressed concern over the negative media reporting that has affected the number of tourists visiting the district.
In what was described as a “family meeting on damage control,” Lt. Walusimbi called for collaboration between the media and security forces to address the challenges faced by the district without compromising the tourism sector.
He urged journalists to love their district and utilize various avenues to market it as a desirable tourism destination, highlighting that accurate reporting can effectively promote Kasese at both national and international levels.
John Kennedy, the Kasese District Internal Security Officer, provided examples of instances where journalists had reported inaccurately, damaging Kasese’s reputation and impacting the tourism sector.
He cited a case where an erroneous report claimed that a bomb had exploded in certain parts of Kasese. Kennedy also mentioned misleading videos circulating on social media, falsely implicating individuals from Kasese.
“Kasese is a tourist destination, and negative reporting will deter tourists. Let’s all report positively about our motherland,” emphasized Lt. Walusimbi. Kennedy emphasized the vital role journalists play in facilitating social and economic transformation by promoting the district through positive reporting.
Addressing the journalists, Lt. Col. Saul Nabimanya, the Triple 2 Mountain Brigade Commander, urged them to prioritize objectivity and fairness when reporting news. He advised against being influenced by conflicts of interest in their coverage.
In response, journalists raised concerns about difficulties in accessing information from security officers, who often failed to respond to their inquiries promptly.
Mathias Thembo, a senior journalist from Kasese Guide Radio, stressed the need for security officers, including the RDC’s office, to be more responsive and provide timely information to journalists. He also requested occasional interaction between security officers and journalists to foster better communication.
Morris Mumbere, a journalist from UBC Ngeya Radio, highlighted the importance of collaboration between security personnel and journalists to ensure accurate reporting. Mumbere recounted an incident where false rumors about a man being eaten by lions in the Queen Elizabeth National Park created panic. He commended the Uganda Wildlife Authority PRO for clarifying the situation and alleviating public fears.
Jolly Mbambu, a journalist from Messiah Radio, acknowledged the challenges journalists face in gathering timely information and highlighted the impact of social media rumors. She urged security officers to guide journalists on effective reporting during security concerns.
Kennedy responded by advising journalists to seek information only from reliable sources. Joel Kaguta, a journalist at Messiah Radio, noted that certain rumors circulating on social media were not initially reported by journalists and emphasized the need for government regulation of social media platforms.
Ali Kusemererwa, a media practitioner and political analyst at UBC Ngeya, described Kasese as a hub for propaganda, where fake information is concocted and circulated by political mafias for their selfish motives.
John B. Thawithe, a veteran journalist and spokesperson for the Rwenzururu Kingdom, reminded journalists about the power of their words to cause irreparable damage. He called for positive reporting about the upcoming return of the Rwenzururu King from Kampala to Kasese, emphasizing the importance of peace and reconciliation as the pillars of the Rwenzururu Kingdom.
The meeting served as a platform for the Kasese Resident District Commissioner, security officers, and journalists to address challenges in reporting and security matters. The RDC urged journalists to promote positive narratives about Kasese District and encouraged cooperation between the media and security forces to foster development and preserve the district’s reputation.