Rwanda leadership wants a vibrant media

Every month the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, holds a press conference to which many accredited journalists both local and foreign, are invited.

Every month the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, holds a press conference to which many accredited journalists both local and foreign, are invited.

In a free and completely unrestrained manner, journalists engage him on matters of national, and sometimes even personal, importance.

They ask questions and he answers them all, taking a lot of time to explain himself clearly, or requesting a minister or an aide to explain.

What is more, these press conferences are transmitted live by radio and television from Village Urugwiro to the community.

There is no room for editing the transmission, nor is there any attempt to do so. The people get the proceedings directly, as if they are also seated in the conference room.

Sometimes journalists ask naïve questions, revealing their lack of depth. All this is left for the people to see and hear, and judge for themselves whether it is fair to ask the president, for example, why some journalists have been locked out of the conference – as if he would know – instead of asking his aides.

All this he takes in his stride, and causes answers to be given by the people the questions should have been directed to in the first place.

It is not presumptive to say that this is one of the best ways of communicating with citizens and therefore improving information flow.

Journalists allegedly being people’s consciences are supposed to ask questions that are presumably itching the population, and for which they have failed to get satisfying answers from evasive and non-committal officials.

This is the time, every month, to get them straight from the horse’s mouth as it were.

If this open-bazaar kind of free communication with the country’s top leader does not cut any edge with press freedom advocates and bring plaudits, then one fails to see what will satisfy these high priests.

What is true is that Rwanda is a unique experience from other nations and does what is considered best for its people. It is tempting to judge it by comparing it to other nations, but such comparisons are inappropriate.

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