OpED

OPINION: Why government Public Relations systems should be demolished, disbanded and dismantled

Muhimbise George is a member of the Alliance for National Transformation (PHOTO /Courtesy)

By Muhimbise George

Recently the entire government machinery went on its knees when some “bloggers” announced that President Museveni had died. This announcement went viral to the extent that I received calls from my village asking me whether it was true.

This pressure caused the President to direct security to arrest the perpetrators where some young man from Luwero was arrested while other “bloggers” like Lumbuye are being hunted down.

Even when we struggle to change government, the bloggers who trade fake news to incite public vulgarize the struggle and their character shouldn’t define opposition.

They announced Lord Mayor Lukwago dead, did the same to the Kabaka, they said Gen Museveni had killed Archbishop Lwanga and conducted riquals on his body at his farm in Kisozi etc. Even when we oppose government we can’t allow this kind of dirty politics to take center stage.

Its deficiency of knowledge to handle social media that to date Facebook remains closed unless one uses VPN. This increases cost of internet, limits internet access, hence affecting businesses.

This is a cost that Ugandans pay for the incompetence of those running our affairs, a medical doctor like Baryomunsi as a Minister of Information and a 74-year-old Sebugwawo who doesn’t have a twitter handle as a minister of ICT!

What do the billions allocated to Ministry of ICT do? We have a country run in an old fashioned manner with outdated methods! People who only seat in offices to fill their bottomless bellies, too incompetent even to defend their own government!

In the first lockdown 6 billion was allocated to Ministry of ICT and national guidance to disseminate information about Covid.

In this Covid response budget 8.2 billion was allocated for the same cause, but how does the ministry spend this money? They run adverts on radios, TVs and newspapers, that’s the end of the story!

But do they analyze social media trends in Uganda? or they just sit in offices and take uninformed decisions?

For example, according to surveys, there is no newspaper in Uganda that sells 30,000 copies daily.

Bukedde sold an average of 29,757 copies daily in the last quarter of 2017 compared to 18,003 for Daily Monitor and 29200 for New Vision (ugandabusiness.com).

This means that on average, less than 150,000 copies of newspapers are sold daily by all papers combined. Even if each newspaper is read by 3 people, it means that less than 500,000 people read newspapers daily.

Even those who read them choose specific topics and not the entire paper and in other cases, one person buys more than one papers!

Statistics show that 3.8bn people equivalent to 48% of the world’s population use social media and 91% of them access it using mobile phones, so since they spend more time with the phones than TVs or newspapers, anybody targeting to brand himself would target the phone as the most appropriate gadget!

For example, how many times does a person in Kampala look at his phone compared to a radio or TV.

So if you wanted to create impact in this demographic, do you target newspapers or you target social media? But do the people in government think in such strategic terms? Tell them to steal whatever comes their way!

In the first lockdown New Vision was given 250 million to disseminate Covid related information, how viable is that?

How many people had the luxury of buying new vision during a lock down? In any case majority of these readers are government officials who buy them as a government policy, and does that class of people lack Covid related information?

Does government need to allocate a budget to arrest the likes of Lumbuye instead of challenging their “lies” by providing alternative facts?

When government launches a project they put adverts in New Vision or Daily Monitor, but the youth who throw pigs at parliament in protest do not read newspapers because they can’t afford them! So even the few achievements made are not well publicized because we are putting resources in a wrong place!

Were our Public relations officers on leave when UK banned flights from Uganda on account of Covid yet our infection rates were much lower than UK itself?

Whereas Uganda has been messed up with less achievements to show, those who manage our public relations are doing nothing and have turned into more of baggage and garbage that they should be shown exit as early as yesterday

Muhimbise George
[email protected], 0787836515

the Author is a member of Alliance for National Transformation Publicity Committee.

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