In Summary

We, therefore, hope that in pursuit of open government and democracy, the government shall consider lifting the ban on radio Bimeeza so we speak to each other on issues that affect us and together we build solutions.

President Museveni has spent the last week appearing on local radio talk shows speaking to people in different districts about the proposed Constitution Amendment Bill 2017 through which the government seeks to change Article 26 on land. That is a welcome interaction with the citizens which is rare in non-election year.
Again in the last week, the Cabinet retreat to review the performance of the ministries in the last one year was opened to the media, allowing the public to get information on best and worst performing ministries.

The last week has, therefore, been a week of open government. The President, Prime Minister and Information minister (who has made open government his mantra since he stepped into office) should therefore be commended for these initiatives because when people speak, they are understood or challenged. But in the end, more people are better informed.

We hope that these engagements shall become the norm and importantly, those with opposing views shall have unfettered access to the media too to push their perspective so the ordinary people get a more balanced view of things.
However, it should not just be about leaders from both sides of the divide pushing their perspective down the ears and throats of the ordinary citizens as the talk shows inevitably do. The ordinary citizens also need to speak to themselves and share their views as they see it standing at the bottom rung.

In the ‘90s and early 2000s, radio used to afford them such opportunity through what was termed “kimeeza” or round table. These town hall meetings that where broadcast live on weekends from a community sitting allowed discussion at a very low level and in the language ordinary people understood.

Unfortunately, these live shows were banned a few years ago, effectively ending the conversation. The President should, therefore, use the radio to reach the ordinary citizens and vice versa so that the falsehoods and distortions can be tacked in open forums that technology has made possible.
We, therefore, hope that in pursuit of open government and democracy, the government shall consider lifting the ban on radio Bimeeza so we speak to each other on issues that affect us and together we build solutions.