Tumwebaze Incident Proves Social Media Needs to Be Regulated

By Josepha Jabo

On Wednesday, February 4, 2015, Minster for the Presidency and KCCA, Honorable Frank Tumwebaze addressed a press conference at Uganda Media Centre with a certain Habib Mboowa, an unemployed youth activist who is also a member of NRM Poor Youth. During the conference, Mboowa confessed he had been used by a gentleman called Emmy Katabazi (who is an assistant to former Prime Minister Patrick Amama Mbabazi) to circulate false and defamatory rumors about Tumwebaze on social media purporting the minster stole10 billion shillings, put it on his fixed deposit bank account in Crane Bank, was forced to go on leave, was under investigation and later had been arrested by the police! It is clear all these attacks on Tumwebaze are motivated by jealously and envy.
Last week, on Friday, January 30, 2015, The Observer ran a front-page story titled, ‘Minister gets death threats.’ I am appalled that anyone would threaten Tumwebaze’s life! Tumwebaze went on his annual leave, from January 3, 2015-Feburary 2, 2015. So, for his enemies to twist ‘leave’ into a ‘suspension’ (to which he is entitled) and insinuate a fallout with the appointing authority is malicious.
Fortunately, Mboowa felt convicted by his wrong deeds and confessed to the minister before he did so publically before the press. While Tumwebaze graciously forgave Mboowa this incident shows, more than ever, there is need to regulate social media platforms in Uganda because anyone can start a baseless rumor at any time. Is it right for these persons to continue holding social media accounts when they are abusing the rights and freedoms of others? In the USA, people who hide behind their desktop computers, laptops or smartphones cruelly targeting celebrities with their poison pens have been dubbed ‘Internet Trolls’ The Americans take cyberbullying  very seriously and it is prosecuted for it is criminal behavior.
Those of us who fall under Tumwebaze’s docket are pleased to have him as our line minister. His performance has been exceptional. One of his greatest moments, thus far, was when he fearlessly faced off with Opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye, during a live televised political debate last year. Those who know Tumwebaze well can testify to the fact that he has been passionate about the NRM party for a long time hence his activism. It is not surprising; therefore, that he holds two dockets simultaneously and, as always, Tumwebaze continues to do a terrific job.
The Writer works for Uganda Media Centre