Rwanda Media Phobia Stalling Birth Of Quality Journalism?


find "sans-serif"; font-size: small;”>Currently there exists a media phobia in Rwanda generally triggered by the fresh memories of its involvement with the past genocide regime. The liberated general population nowadays prefers not to show any cause for liberalisation of media but caring for other development programs.

It is against this well-entrenched media phobia that the status of media in the country keeps at complicated, despite persuasive constitutional provisions in articles 33 & 34 guaranteeing freedoms of thought, opinion, conscience and press respectively.

Rwanda’s media past continues to affect the growth of media industry by failing to attract investors and professionals that instead pursue their careers in line departments of government and non-government agencies thus maintaining a large skills gap within the media industry that has fallen prey to mediocre and opportunistic cadre journalism.

The general media phobia in Rwanda has in the past 17-years resulted into a culture of self-censorship directly affecting the quality of journalism in the country due to the continuous search of political correctness. This phobia has been used to the advantage by cadre and mediocre journalist’s intent on only image promotion and minting money as long as political correctness vehemently upheld.

The toughness and sensitivity of Rwanda’s historical facts and current legal provisions for the fight against genocide ideology and promotion of unity and reconciliation deter foreign investors that would invest in media of a country and yet avoid touching on the local politics of the nation.

Although the RPF government clearly understands power of the media since they too operated a radio during a four-year successful liberation struggle, it has not provided for the rightful position of media in management of affairs of Rwanda. RPF should have primarily fixed the media to avoid the current state of the country’s media and its relationship with government.

Strategically in absence of a vibrant opposition, the media should take up this position but the Rwanda media has failed to fill in the position of an active opposition but acted as an irresponsible political enemy to the establishment. It is in this regard that a viable critical media has failed to emerge thus providing a leeway for the government to shun fixing the problematic media industry.

Despite the argument that Rwanda’s problems are unique to the country itself, it does not deter internationally respected agencies from carrying out assessment on Rwanda’s performance on media freedom, human rights, governance and democracy. It is In this regard that Rwanda detests media predator position while accepting top rankings in other aspects without questioning methods of selection.

Government withdrawal from media interference transmitted through state regulatory agencies but providing for a favourable environment enabling professional media practice, self-regulation of media and media investment attraction will enhance media freedom and development.

Primary registration of a business at the national development board might take a few hours but candidates have to pass through other screening agencies whose requirements might never be met for final licensing of private individual starter especially financial and general equipment quality.

Lack of access to vital information has in itself facilitated resignation of country’s media from public affairs coverage especially elections, governance, interest in giving meaning to the country’s foreign policy to the region and lately the East African community.

Rwanda’s small economy is to blame for local media’s grave financial incapacity. Through providing for a favourable environment promoting liberal and free market-economy, a vibrant private media would emerge under market forces. However, with stringent economic conditions that frighten establishment of private media is an indirect denial of media freedom despite positive government will and good media laws.

Generally, Media freedom and gradual development in Rwanda will be realised through a partnership arrangement between the government of Rwanda and the media fraternity instead of one party accusing the other every time a sensitive situation arises.


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