The Parliament of Uganda has warned journalists against taking pictures of sleeping or rather ‘meditating’ government officials and projecting them in bad light.
The stringent guidelines were issued on Monday ahead of today’s State of the Nation Address and Thursday’s reading of the budget.
President Yoweri Museveni will this afternoon deliver the State of Nation Address to the citizenry.
“As you prepare to cover the State of Nation Address by the President and the reading of the National Budget this week, we would like to draw your attention to rules governing electronic coverage of proceedings of Parliament. (See Appendix G, Rule 216 of the Parliament Rules of Procedure),” the memo issued to journalists reads in part.
Parliament argues that the media has made it a habit to depict the sleeping government officials in bad light before their voters.
“Some sections of the media, have taken it upon themselves to use the occasion of the delivery to Parliament of the State of the Nation Address and the reading of the National Budget, to project images that cast Parliament in bad light or to attempt to ridicule or make a mockery of the deliberations by showing unflattering shots/scenes,” the memo adds.
Parliament quoted Paragraph 2 of the rule 216, noting that: “In covering the proceedings of the House, the media shall have regard to the dignity of the House and its functions as a Legislature rather than a place of entertainment.”
Further paragraph 3(4) adds that: “In no circumstances should close up shots of Members’ or officers’ papers be taken.”
The rules further state that “Neither interruptions from, nor demonstrations in the galleries are ‘proceedings’, and as such they shall in no circumstances be televised.”
Parliament adds that even if such images of sleeping officials are captured ‘by accident,’ they shouldn’t make their way on Television or print media platforms.
It should be noted that a number of government officials including MPs, ministers and the President himself have in the past been captured enjoying sleep during the State of the National Address and the reading of the National Budget. A few years ago, the sleeping bug invaded President Museveni during the reading of the budget, but State House argued the President was simply meditating.