Press Politics and Public Policy in Uganda

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This book explores, through the lens of history, the dynamics between the press, politics and public policy in Uganda. It illuminates and documents the various tensions and struggles for press freedom in the country since the establishment of the first newspaper in 1900. The book demonstrates that, despite Uganda’s brush with multiple political systems over the decades – multiparty, one-party politics, military rule and no-party political arrangements – the press has always been at the receiving end of the stick. Consequently, journalists, in their yearnings for a legally unrestrictive media-free environment under a liberal socio-political atmosphere, have had to deploy various methods and approaches in dealing with the various state apparatuses.


“Any serious discussion of the process of democratization in Africa is incomplete without paying adequate attention to or reflecting on the freedom of the media in that part of the world ... More than on any other continent, therefore, in Africa the media has fought almost single-handedly to challenge leaders and politicians to speed up the democratic process, when brute force and dictatorial rule were forcing many to watch a continent’s decline in silence ... As this book demonstrates in the case of Uganda, the price that citizens have paid in their search for democracy has been high ... This book, written through the lens of history, helps illuminate the struggle for press freedom in Africa. It also provides a case study to show how Uganda’s experiment has comparative power to compare and contrast the experiences of other countries on the continent and other countries around the world also in transition to democracy ...” – (from the Foreword) Jorge I. Domínguez, Director, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University

“Dr. Ocitti writes succinctly and passionately about the media’s evolution in Uganda ... What is striking about the book is that it is written from the heart, from a former journalist who has fought in the trenches, and knows the difficulties of being a journalist in Africa, at first hand ... What is more important, even in Uganda, is that the kind of injustices and unimaginable atrocities carried out by power-seeking political elites under false pretenses of ushering in ‘democracy’ has increasingly borne the brunt of vigilante pro-democracy movement and networks ... Without a doubt, this book will be a valuable reference point not only for media and political scholars in Uganda, but also for a much wider readership in Africa and beyond.” – John Mukela, Executive Director, NSJ – Southern African Media Training Trust, Maputo, Mozambique

“The best book on the chequered history of the Ugandan media I have ever read. This well-researched work lays bare the dramatic rough and tumble of journalism in Uganda pre- and post-independence, and none of the country’s leaders – from colonial times to Museveni – comes off with any real credit. On the whole, a very sound work.” – Baffour Ankomah, Editor, New African magazine, London

Table of Contents

Selected Abbreviations
Foreword by Jorge I. Domínguez
1. Early Emergence of the Press
2. Political Independence and the Search for Press Freedom
3. The Press and Militarism Under Idi Amin
4. Post-Amin Transitional Politics and the Press
5. Political Rhetoric, Press and No-party Politics
6. Legal Contradictions and the Challenge of Press Freedom

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