The director of communication and public affairs at Parliament Chris Obore says journalism in Uganda has been reduced to nothing more than tomato growing.
He said for example, many journalists insisting on covering Parliament are only seeking to “fraternise with the MPs to get transport”.
“Parliament is complex and requires experience. All we are saying is, only those with knowledge and experience should cover Parliament,” he explained while appearing on NBS television Thursday.
He said journalists must improve themselves because passion is not enough.
“Don’t cry. I feel angry that today, our profession (journalism) has been reduced to potato growing; everyone is a journalist.”
Obore says decision to lock out journalists without degrees is aimed at improving reporting on Parliamentary matters because journalists set the agenda.
“We shouldn’t have less educated journalists setting the agenda on parliamentary matters.”
Obore, a former investigative editor at Daily Monitor, says the Forth Estate has failed to influence the country’s agenda because journalists are not pushing themselves.
Last year Parliament was caught at the centre of a controversy after it wrote to media houses decreeing that it would not accredit journalists who had covered Parliament for more than five years.
However, Agnes Nandutu, the president of Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA) and also a senior reporter at NTV, who was denied accreditation despite having covered Parliament for 15 years, says Obore has become a politician, whose views have been blared by the new found power.
Obore also barred Yasin Mugerwa, a senior Parliament reporter at Daily Monitor and Sulaiman Kakaire, a senior Parliament reporter at The Observer accreditation.
“He was a journalist before he went to Parliament. Would he be where he is if he had been denied a chance to do journalism?” Nandutu wondered.
Meanwhile, Obore went vocal defending MPs in their new move to exempt themselves from paying taxes.