FLASHBACK: WHEN WAFULA OGUTTU CONFRONTED GEN M7 ON FAKE NEWS
By Mulengera Reporters
Philip Wafula Oguttu was among key founders who spoke at the glamorous event at Serena Conference Center where Monitor newspaper celebrated its 30 years of existence. Speaking as the paper’s founding Editor-in-Chief, Wafula recalled a number of the ups and downs he endured as he led the team before the Nation Media Group came on board to bring in the badly needed recapitalization in the early 2000s.
One of the things he referenced upon was the love-hate relationship he had with Gen YK Museveni who has been President of Uganda since 1986. A former UPM member, Oguttu recalled one time assigning Jim Mugunga (who initially had joined the newspaper as a sports reporter) to travel to Khartoum where he interviewed two powerful political figures in the Sudanese government.
These were Hassan Turabi (Speaker of Parliament) and President El-Omar Bashir. This was at a time Sudan was an active adversary of Gen YK Museveni and active funder or supporter of Gen Joseph Kony and his LRA rebel group. Wafula recalls that when the Mugunga stories were published, Gen Museveni was so furious and confided in some people saying this was proof of his long held suspicion that the Bashir-led Khartoum was funding Monitor newspaper with an intention of disorganizing his nascent government out of power. Wafula says he reached out to Gen Museveni asking for a meeting which was quickly granted.
That on arriving there, Wafula refused to smile and instead began spitting fire at the President. “I told him Mr. President I’m here to get the proof that we are indeed being funded by the government in Khartoum. In case you have any credible information, share it with us so that we act on those directors or reporters to whom this money is being given on Monitor’s behalf,” Wafula recalled as he addressed the Wednesday large audience at Serena Hotel. “He was quick to cool me down by saying Mr. Wafula Oguttu please calm down and I indeed calmed down. We then talked once again and that’s how our friendship used to be.”
Wafula also thanked Gen Museveni for supporting their proposal and request for a tax holiday which was given to them for 5 years and it enabled the company to register significant growth in its founding days. However, he regretted the advertising ban the same Musevenist state slapped on them in order to cripple and constrain the newspaper’s operations. It was subsequently lifted but this was after a lot of damage had been occasioned. He also thanked God for the coming on board of the Nation Media Group as an investor adding that without the NMG coming on board, it’s possible the Daily Monitor the way we know it today would have folded long time ago.
Other speakers at the event included Minister Chris Baryomunsi, Board Chairman Prof Samuel Sejjaaka, Board member Susan Nsibirwa, UCU Masscom Department head Monica Chibita and Andrew Mwenda who admitted being who he is today because of the mentoring the likes of Onyango Obbo and Wafula Oguttu (who he described as his father) bestowed upon him.
He recalled some of his good days at Monitor including embarrassing State Minister Stephen Kavuma who, as defense Minister, tried to contradict his stories regarding the circumstances under which UPDF Commander Jet Tumwebaze met his death during anti-ADF operations in the Rwenzori region.
Mwenda also defended his deep relationship with members of the Ugandan deep state saying it’s one of the many things he learned from his bosses and mentors like Ogen Kevin Aliro, Onyango Obbo and Wafula Oguttu who (despite running the most critical newspaper) were best friends with the likes of Eriya Kategaya, Amama Mbabazi, Kahinda Otafiire, James Wapakabulo and others who were the most powerful actors in Museveni’s Uganda.(For comments on this story, get back to us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734 & 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).