KAMPALA, Uganda: Soon after the Kyadondo East by-elections, President Yoweri Museveni authored an article in which he lamented about the negative coverage which has been accorded to his NRM party and him in particular from the Ugandan media.
In that hyper emotional article, the Ugandan president decried the fact that even the state controlled newspaper The New Vision had opted to give a wide positive coverage to the opposition and ignored its parent institution – the government.
He also mentioned that out of the seven by-elections, the NRM had won five, but was surprised that media, and again with emphatic mention of The New Vision was more interested in the two which the NRM lost.
The president mentioned The New Vision seven times, all of them in disgust about the way it had negatively covered NRM and painted a rosy picture of its opponents. He was particularly incensed with the way the government paper had glorified the recently elected Kyadondo MP Hon Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine and accorded him a wide coverage before and after elections.
The biased covering of the Kyadondo East by elections nauseated the president that he was forced to author a missive which stirred dust and provoked the eventual winner Kyagulanyi to write a counter rebuttal that almost put the president’s missive to shame.
Those who have been very close to the president will tell you that when he is normally unhappy about an issue at institutional level, he will mention the name of its leader. For instance when issues arose that attracted his attention about the Uganda police, he publicly mentioned Gen Kale Kayihura and implored him to “clean up” his house.
Likewise, when he got frustrated with The New Vision in the old days, he used to openly complain about William Pike its pioneer proprietor. The same was the case when he used to have hanky-panky with The Daily Monitor, and he would openly talk about Wafula Ogutu’s paper etc.
But when he is totally disgusted with the person running a given institution of government he will not deliberately mention the name of the person who heads that institution. He will simply mention the name of the institution and leave out the name of its leader.
Interestingly another example which enriches the point we are making, in regard to The Daily Monitor, is that, although Conrad Nkutu was the man in charge, the president never mentioned his name publicly, but only made phone calls to him to either complain or seek redress about what had gone wrong.
It’s because he somehow never had any particular liking for Conrad Nkutu which rather explains why he had to force him into exile. And by the way, coincidentally, Conrad Nkutu happens to be the mentor of our subject of discussion today; Mzee Robert Kabushenga with whom they met at the Namuwongo based media house!
Without deviating from the real issue, we are tracing the fact that President Yoweri Museveni is increasingly getting disgusted with the Vision Group honcho by using different case scenarios.
You will realize that when the President is fed up of one of his employees to a point of no return, he never mentions their name but rather the name of the institution they heads. And as a matter of fact, that is exactly what happened, when he kept on mentioning transgressions of The New Vision without mentioning the man who runs it.
And this, according to telltale signs, is an indication of how disgusted he has been with the Newvision CEO.
And there are quite a number of reasons why the President is totally not interested in Robert Kabushenga anymore, to the point of not even mentioning his name. The New Vision CEO’s relationship with the President has since been put in the spotlight with many analysts predicting a probable fallout.
The Gist of the Matter
Kabushenga has not necessarily done anything particularly wrong, but it’s also true that he has not done anything particularly right to impress his Master. One may say that under Kabushenga, The New Vision Empire has enlarged to become one of the most profit making government entities in the country.
But it’s also true that given the monopoly and unfettered access it enjoys in the marketing sector, its profitability has always been assured. And in any case, there has never been a time when The New Vision made losses, even before Kabushenga emerged to head it.
In any case one can as well say that, under Kabushenga, The New Vision has engaged into many unnecessary loss making ventures than it should have done. These initiatives have encroached in the massive profits which the organization should have made.
For instance, when Bukedde TV became a hit, Kabushenga got excited and launched Bukedde 2 which became a liability and failed to make any profits. He also launched other loss making media outlets like Vision voice radio which evaporated without making any impact on the broadcasting scene.
He then tried to change its name to X-FM, but it remains a redundant white elephant in the making. Therefore his indispensability is totally a matter of wishful thinking rather than based on facts and figures. Here we can safely say that Kabushenga is simply a spoke in the wheel, and can be replaced and New Vision grows from strength to greater strength.
The other aspect of his relevance or irrelevance relates to what was expected of him as the head of Uganda’s largest media house. As a major government media outlet, Vision was expected to propagate the agenda of the government in power. He was supposed to cover the President and promote his values. Has he done that?
President Museveni is already telling you that he has not done it. Instead, the government paper has reduced the Fountain of Honor to a crying baby lamenting about not only being given biased coverage about NRM but also failing to cover his activities.
The Ideological Aspect
But it must be stressed that the President has every reason not to trust or pamper the Vision Group honcho. One of the reasons for the mistrust has got an ideological dimension about it. The president is very much aware that initially, Kabushenga was one of the biggest critics of the NRM government.
When he was a moderator of the Capital Gang, a weekly talk show, Kabushenga exposed his anti-NRM stance so much that he used to taunt NRM spokesman Ofwono Opondo, referring the ruling party to all sorts of vulgarities.
At times Kabushenga was privileged to host the President on his Talk Show, where he exposed himself as anti-establishment – judging by the way he used to posture his questions. Kabushenga may have forgotten, but the President has never forgotten the fact that he was not ideologically linked to the NRM in the first place.
As we mentioned earlier on, Kabushenga was mentored by Conrad Nkutu, who was a rabid critic of President Museveni. It’s actually rumored that despite being in direct opposition to NRM and its leader, Kabushenga’s job as a moderator on Capital Gang put him in direct contact with many senior cadres of the NRM.
One of such cadres who actually lured Kabushenga to the government side was none other than the then all powerful super minister Amama Mbabazi who co-opted him into the NRM system and eventually secured him the job as head of the Media Center.
From the Media Center, Kabushenga’s first act of proof of loyalty to the NRM was when he hastily deported a Canadian journalist from Uganda. To his credit, he worked his socks off and managed to become the CEO of The New Vision when William Pike decided to quit Uganda. The rest as they say, is history.
You can safely say that despite being in senior positions of the ruling party, the President is not entirely convinced that Kabushenga is a true cadre of the system. The fact that he was mentored by Conrad Nkutu and recruited by Amama Mbabazi into the NRM makes matters worse for him. (Also read; JPAM Winds Now Blowing Towards New Vision)
There are stronger indicators that the President is about to unleash an overhaul of the leadership of some government institutions, which might include sacking or transfer of The New Vision honcho.