PARLIAMENT. Members of Parliament have called for an expeditious action against NBS television for hosting a panellist whom they accused of insulting female legislators.
Raising a matter of national importance, Lira Woman MP Atim Ogom, named popular socio-political media commentator, Charles Rwomushana as the panellist who appeared on NBS’s Front Line talk show and insulted female legislators in the 10th parliament.
Disregarding the host’s call for decorum, she said Mr Rwomushana insisted on referring to female legislators as self-centred ‘prostitutes’ who do nothing in the fight for maternal health but only clap and stamp in the House with the hope of being appointed ministers.
Ms Ongom said the reference was in total disregard of the contribution senior female legislators such as Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa and FDC’s Cecilia Ogwal have made to national governance and driving the cause of women in the country.
“We are on record as women in this Parliament for blocking the passing of the Budget before matters of maternal health got the required funding. Calling us prostitutes was disrespectful to us and we want an immediate action to be taken and also a public apology from Mr Rwomushana to female MPs of this House,” she said.
Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah was not accommodative to ICT minister Frank Tumwebaze’s explanation that; “We have received the complaint and we are investigating the matter,” saying there is nothing to investigate.
“This is not one of those matters that should delay. There is no investigation required in something recorded. Action should be taken immediately,” Mr Oulanyah said.
“The right to freedom of expression does not give anybody the right to abuse other people. From the time the story ran in Red Pepper, many MPs have come to my office. People are exercising a lot of restraint because I told them to do so,” he explained after telling the House that he requested for the recording from NBS and he already watched it.
Shadow constitutional affairs Minister Medard Ssegona warned Parliament against coming off as pressuring the ICT minister to put UCC under duress to investigate because someone might use it and complain that they were unfairly judged.
ICT and information minister, Frank Tumwebaze said he has already instructed UCC to investigate the matter and that he will report to the House on Thursday about the action taken.
“Investigation may take anything procedural such as writing to NBS and asking them to produce the recording of the show to see if anything was tempered with.
Investigation will be done expeditiously but not summarily by not allowing the broadcasting company a chance to be heard,” Mr Ssegona advised.
When contacted, Mr Rwomushana said he will not apologise.
“How can I apologise for defining members [female MPs] appropriately? If there’s any group that is best represented in Parliament is the women but if you look at the plight of women in the rural areas, you ask, do these women organise to fight for the plight of the women?”
“They have become voting machines. They have sold their conscience. I am searching and continue to search for a word to describe a person who sells their conscience. The only word available for now is a prostitute. A prostitute sells part of her body but these ones are worse because conscience is the entire body. I rather deal with a woman who sells part of her body than one who sells her conscience,” he said.
Meanwhile, talk show host Charles Odongtho welcomed Parliament and UCC to review the show recordings and said NBS “has not done any mistake.”
“We did the best to ensure that the show is run professionally and we did exactly that. When he made the unfortunate remarks, I called him out and told him it was unprofessional. As a host, I did what was appropriate for me to do. I told him either to withdraw or elucidate,” he said.
“He said he was using it as a figure of speech to mean that MPs trade their conscience for money. I didn’t agree with him and I told him that’s not our standard. No one can anticipate what a guest is going to say on the show. You just have to control the limits, which is what I exactly did.”