France’s Media Monde: From distortion to peddling Fake News

Ciceron, a Roman emperor of the first century post Christum Natum observed that; “the responsibilities of bad leaders are disastrous. Not only do they take care of their vices themselves, but they also impregnate the society”.

This is what the staff and leadership at Radio France Internationale (RFI) are doing for and against Rwanda. 

“France Medias Monde” is a French state-owned holding company, which owns the Radio France Internationale (RFI) and the television news broadcaster France 24.

Besides the two, the company owns Monte Carlo Doualiya (MCD) Radio and also has a 12.5% stake in the TV channel TV5Monde.

Let us review the historical background of France Media Monde.

The conglomeration dates back to 2008, when Nicolas Sarkozy the then French President and his government wanted to confront big international broadcasters like BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera, for external visibility and influence.

Then, it created its own “Society of External Audiovisual of France” (Societe de l’Audiovisuel Exterieur de la France, SAEF) that owned RFI, France 24 and the French State’s holdings in TV5 Monde.

In 2013, the name changed from “Societe de l’Audiovisuel Exterieur de la France” to “France Medias Monde” but the responsibilities and ownership remained the same.

Currently, Marc Saikali and Cecile Megie head France 24 and RFI respectively.

Sonia Rolley, an RFI journalist was expelled from Rwanda in 2006 for unprofessionalism and attempting to threaten national security.

She later imposed herself as a regional expert for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, including Rwanda. She is good at distorting facts, fabricating stories and courting confrontation with an aim of undermining some leaders and to destabilise the country.

When it comes to Rwanda and President Kagame, one would evidently see a pathological hatred. Apparently, the leadership at RFI seems either ignorant of matters on ground or in the same bed with her.

The discredited Human Rights Watch, which has for years worked toes and nails to tarnish the image of the country by declaring as dead people who are alive, always get in for support.

Such negative solidarity worsens the situation.

One therefore wonders if Cecile Megie is aware or supports what happens under her authority as the Director of RFI.

On June 22 2019, President Kagame, who was attending the European Development Days in Brussels, held an interview with France 24 together the European Union Commissioner for Development and Cooperation, Neven Mimica.

Both Leaders had a very good discussion only for the host journalist, Catherine Nicholson, to jump in with arrogance, a kind of superiority complex, trying to teach Rwanda and President Kagame about civil and political human rights back home.

Neven Mimica downplayed that unsubstantiated question by stating clearly that; Rwanda is an exemplary model in terms of good governance, security, unity and reconciliation, politically and development.

President Kagame could not ignore the implication of the allegations by the host, who didn’t stand as journalist but a judge.

She went far to claim that; Rwanda’s debt is at 50% of the country’s GDP, which is false. For those who do not know; this would mean that, the country is likely to be insolvent or on a brink of becoming a failed State, with lack of capacity to pay back the debt.

First, President Kagame noted that; any claim of human rights violations in Rwanda today is “just ridiculous” and observed that, Rwanda’s debt is at 32% of GDP which gives a borrowing capacity up to 18% more.

In the days that followed the airing of the interview last week to be precisely, we saw a high level of conspiracy between RFI and the Human Rights Watch, accusing President Kagame for having abused the EU Commissioner, Neven Mimica.

The latter clearly stated that he was neither abused nor challenged, affirming his solidarity and trust in President Kagame.

I have been waiting for Sonia Rolley to abide with the principles of professional media to retract or at least offer any sort of clarity on the misleading story, but in vain.

In fact, her intention is to discredit the leadership and to destabilize Rwanda only to give credit to whatever goes against the Government.

This character has been exposed and denounced over years, but neither the RFI management could take any corrective measures.

This compelled me to do more research which only confirmed by suspicions on the attitude by RFI against Rwanda.

In fact, Cecile Megie, the Director of RFI has been a member of the Board for the Reporters Without Borders since 2015 up to now.

This organization is known for recruiting its agents and key informants from the criminals and detractors of the Government of Rwanda, since 1990s. This is nothing new.

For them, Rwanda only had free media with RTLM and Kangura, the “hate media” that was instrumental in the genocide against Tutsi.

When such media were globally condemned through convictions of key personalities at both outlets, by ICTR, we did not see any statement from Reporters Without Borders.

Cecile Megie has been working with RFI in different capacities since August 1993.

She knows what free press is. She understands that; when reporting as a journalist, she is aware that no one has the right to distort what is on record and what can be quoted from the source.

Moreover, she knows that, journalism is not about saying what the reporter wishes, but what happens. Journalism does not create news, it gathers “news” but we have seen a different attitude when it comes to Rwanda.

This is not just with Sonia Rolley, it is about RFI as institution, and it should be fixed by France Medias Monde, if really they are concerned with free press.

There is nothing of free press at RFI when all that comes out about Rwanda is distortion of facts and fake news.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stay within RFI and France Media Monde as it is fed into the society, into the whole world. Can we talk of bad journalists or bad leaders?

The writer is a political analyst and a member of PanAfrican Movement, Rwanda Chapter

The views expressed in this article are of the author.