The role of journalism in the upcoming legislative elections in Rwanda – UMUSEKE – News indeed
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Radio-Isango star broadcasted a debate on different roles that journalism plays in national political life. The motion of the day related to the role that journalism is playing to inform the general public in the upcoming legislative elections. This weekly program is sponsored by the European Union through the Institut Panos-Paris and ARJ(Association Rwandaise des Journalistes). It takes place on Sunday (9h00-10h00 AM).

Elections in Rwanda

The Presenters were as usual Madame Solange Ayanone and Mr Muvunyi Frank.

Guests to discuss the motion were:

– Mr Robert Mugabe (from Great Lakes Voice),

Mr Munanwa Gonzague(a self-employed journalist)

Among other guests who did not come included Theodor Ntarindwa,

Topic 1. The ouster of Mukaruriza Monique as a breaking story

Before they embarked on the motion of the day they discussed about the ouster of former MINEAC Minister Monique Mukaruriza.

Mr Mugaawa said that the decision was a good one as Miss Mukaruriza was not, according to Muganwa, the one to represent Rwanda due to her ways to explain some key issues concerning the region.

Gonzague uttered that the fact that H.E Paul Kagame replaced Mukaruriza very quickly shows that he hasseen her incompetency and prepared someone else to replace her.

“If it was not the case, the replacement of the Minister might have taken a relatively long time but regarding the speed which the President replaced him shows he has seen her weaknesses and has chosen someone to appoint “ Muganwa said.

Muganwa said that what journalists write down, senior leaders of the republic read it .The proof is the ousting of two former Ministers Karugara(of Justice) and Musoni Protais(Cabinet Affairs).

However according to Muganwa ,President Kagame has the Constitutional based right to ousting and replacing  Ministers  who are RPF members.

Others are seemingly protected by the Constitution whereby their political parties’ representation must be ensured.

 Topic 2. Discussion on the role of Journalism as a profession in the upcoming elections.

What is the role journalists have to play in the legislative elections to come? ,asked Muvunyi to Mugabe Robert

“Actually journalism is not a magic cure to current political, economic or any other problem the country is facing, rather it is tool to inform on what is going wrong and advocate for what needs to be done for the benefit of  the general public” Mugabe responded to Muvunyi.

Robert Mugabe, a Rwandan journalist

For Mugabe, the representation system that is used in Rwanda whereby political parties provide candidates among whom candidates to elect will be chosen from the preliminaries and this  hinders journalists to track on how transparent this process is.

Therefore the last session to vote does not provide candidates who are representing the wishes of the general public.

“The role of journalism relates more to publishing the final results of the elections rather than being to inform on who is going to be elected, what are the political lines of the party he/she is representing” Mugabe added.

Muganwa held the same views with Mugabe’ views .But he added that another issue that is frustrating is that same political parties keep on presenting their candidates.

Does this negatively impact on the fairness and transparency of the elections? Ayanone asked Muganwa.

“Yes Indeed, because if political parties do not present different people to compete with different political lines the political status-quo will remain and this does not promote democratic  principles  Rwandans wish” responded Muganwa.

Why do not journalists make this public for Rwandans to denounce it? Ayanone wondered

Mugabe replied that the role of journalists is to bringing a positive change on the on-going issues.

For him, it is useless to speak or write on something you are aware it will not be changed or treated fairly.

He said that according to the current political and economic situation in Rwanda, it is impossible to one’s views  to be recognized as worthwhile of he/she is not advocating for the ruling political  party’ views.

Mugabe revealed another issue that according to him weakens the effectiveness of Rwandan parliamentarians, which is poor knowledge on the political and socio-economic issues citizens are facing.

“The choice and setting up of our parliamentarians are based on people rather than on their knowledge of the system. This does negatively impact on the way they study and set laws to guide our nation.”Mugabe said.

Gonzague Muganwa added ‘the proof for this is repetitive amendments of laws that Parliamentarians keep on doing’

Mugabe, replying on the question about what hinders them to freely work as free journalists, highlighted that fact that economic and political are not flexible enough to ease the working conditions of journalists.

“If all ways to get sponsor are hold on by one political party, it becomes harder to have enough financial means to have access to stories that can bear financial incomes” added Mugabe who was speaking on his own behalf not on Great Lakes Voice’.

-The listeners Views

A listener said that political parties are paper-based parties instead of being population -based. Another one said that political parties are under one RPF umbrella whereby none of them does bring its own political guidelines instead they agree on RPF lines as if they are members of RPF.

On the other hand, Angeli from Flash FM wrote text messaged that some journalists are fearful or fanatic. He said there some who are corrupted and this according to him does not promote professionalism concerning freedom of journalism.

Topic 3: Egypt crisis

Due to the political  unrest in Egypt during which Morsi was ousted by Military, Morsi replaced Hosni who ruled over Egypt for three decades long.

However the crisis persists. So Muvunyi wonders  what to his guests what is the situation ahead  in Egypt.

Muganwa said that Hosni ruled the country without respecting the democratic principles. As the Muslim Brotherhood started to rule the nation it started to apply democratic rule mixed by a religious component that was new to Egyptians.

His ruling era provided a strong involvement of the Military Staff into national affairs. That is why currently soldiers are strong enough to throw a President down and set another one, despite the will of the population.

Robert Mugabe in addition to Muganwa’ views said that the biggest mistake of Hosni is to have built his name and ruling system stronger that were the Egyptian socio-political institutions.

Mugabe advised that if President Kagame does not build strong institutions,the Egyptian crisis is most likely to happen to Rwanda as Kagame and Hosni(before his ouster) both are very respected leaders who have full authority over their nations.

 NIZEYIMANA Jean Pierre

UM– USEKE.RW

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