The Minister of Information, Louise Mushikiwabo, yesterday called on government officials to play their part in availing relevant information to media practitioners as a way of fostering good governance.
Mushikiwabo made this call during the first Annual Government and Media Dialogue, a platform that seeks to strengthen partnership between the two parties.
The dialogue also aimed at ironing out the various differences that exist between media practitioners and government officials.
“We are aware that some government officials do not offer information, but I would like to assure you that access to this vital information is something we are committed to.
“Media practitioners should however build relationship, trust and comfort with these sources because it is an important aspect that will upscale government-media relationship,” Mushikiwabo added.
With reference to the Vision 2020, the minister noted that media facilitates in the realization of this significant goal by engaging citizens in the development process, a manifestation of accountability and transparency.
Quoting President Paul Kagame’s remarks, Mushikiwabo said, “Vision 2020 is not only for government, but a shared purpose for all Rwandans. Therefore, we must remind ourselves of how our work can contribute towards realizing this vision.”
“The media and journalists cannot operate out of this vision. It is a medium that empowers citizens to know what is being done by their leaders hence a tool for them (citizens) to analyse problems and engage fully in problem-solving,” Mushikiwabo added.
As regards the state of media in Rwanda, the Executive Secretary in the Media High Council (MHC), Patrice Mulama, highlighted that about 73 percent (over 400) individuals in the media lack knowledge or training in journalism.
“There is an urgent need for the Ministry of Education to prioritise journalism as a way of covering the skills gap.
Many media outlets are also still doing their printing process out of the country and this is very costly thus slowing development of this profession,” he noted.
In response, the minister said that training programmes are being organized to meet the skills’ gap adding that revamping the national information office (ORINFOR) is also underway and will be complete by May 2010.
Participants also argued that some penalties in the penal code such as defamation are too heavy, citing that instead of the two-year imprisonment, guilty journalists should be fined.
Participants came from various government institutions such as Police and Ministries. Media houses present included The New Times, ORINFOR, Radio Flash, Radio Salus, The Media High Council and Amazing Grace Radio among others.