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Rwanda gov’t shifts regulatory powers to media professionals

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By GLV reporter

The Rwanda cabinet has announced the decision of the state to pull-out of the responsibility of regulating the media to enhance self regulatory system in the country.
“Rwanda Media High Council” a government owned media regulating agency, which is established based on the constitution had attracted heavy criticisms, from the local independent media and international media activists, saying it was ‘a government controlling arm targeting the independent media in the country.
The ministry with information in its portfolio says that “the transfer of regulatory powers is not automatic but a process.”
“This transfer (of regulatory powers) is not automatic. The media industry needs to be organized.” Protais Musoni said.
During the Presidential press conference at Urugwiro village early today, some media practitioners revealed their skepticism to words government surprise offer to the independent media.
“Your excellency, why this offer, and who requested it?” Albert Rudatsimburwa, Contact FM radio boss questioned President Kagame as all eyes were turned to Minister Musoni to explain the decision.
According to Minister Musoni, the government is following a strategy towards “self regulation.”
In the telephone interview Nelson Gatsimbazi, the editor of local Umusingi, said that it is a positive move and the good decision the state has made.
“Yes, the decision is good. But, here is the problem that might come in; coming up with the fraternity to regulate the media behaving like Rwanda Journalist’s Association which many journalists have no sense of ownership would be a problem again.”Gatsimbazi narrated
“We might end-up like Tanzania, where they have a similar body but working for the interests of the state not the media.” he added.
The Director General in the Ministry of information, Ignatius Kabagambe, said that, the transfer of media regulatory powers is “a decision to which the state is not pulling-out of the media regulation completely.”
”This is a genuine move that the media of Rwanda should trust,” adding that the government is determined to build and support the media and use the legal process if necessary.
The government’s move towards self regulatory is a big move towards the development of the industry. However, it will require the reform in the laws of the media.
The deputy president of Rwanda Journalist’s Association and editor with The New Times, James Munyaneza, has described the government move as a “Trust” from the government towards the media considering her role in 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.
“This is sign that government is serious with professional, vibrant media but this good news also comes with a heavy responsibility towards the Rwanda media to cross-check themselves and also advise each other,” Munyaneza told Great Lakes Voice.

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