Uganda: UCC Officials Survive Lynching for Closing 'Community Radios'
Officials of Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) narrowly survived a mob protesting against an operation to close down illegal broadcasters in Luweero town.
Recently, UCC directed all "community radios" broadcasting through megaphones to cease operations with immediate effect and pull down their apparatus.
UCC explained that the "community radios" were working in contravention of the Uganda Communications Commission Act which prohibits persons from installing or operating radios, television or broadcasting apparatus without license from the body.
On Tuesday, UCC officials led by content manager Paul Mukasa, backed by Environment Protection Police Unit officers went to Luweero Town Council to enforce the directive. They successfully closed down Voice of Kasana and Paradise community radios.
However, they were attacked by a mob when they approached Kalaso Community Radio. Police used tear gas to disperse the rowdy crowd forcing the officials to abandon the operation.
Isaac Kalembe, the UCC spokesperson says they managed to confiscate the amplifier and mixers but left the megaphones on the pole over the chaos. He adds that the owner of the apparatus will be prosecuted for defying lawful orders.
Enock Lugolobi, a resident told this reporter that the directive is unfair adding that closing down the community megaphones was infringement to their right to information.
Ronald Luyinda, the director of Kalaso Community Radio has also criticized UCC for using excessive force and refusing to negotiate.
In 2012 UCC closed all community radios in Luweero and confiscated their equipment but they were reopened after the then district Chairperson Abdul Nadduli contested the operation. He argued that the electronic media act is not binding to public addresses (community radios) because they have no frequencies and their area of operations is too small.
The community radios charge from Shs2000 to Shs10,000 per advert and they engage in sending messages that include death, missing persons, local music shows and lost goods among others.