The government has been at the forefront in the fight against corruption and related vices. So it beats reason when some government officials throw the spanner in the works and help fan it— inadvertently perhaps.
The practice by some government institutions, and even international organizations, to “soften” the media in order to receive positive coverage is well and truly alive.
It is dressed in some very innocent sounding terms like “facilitation”, “transport”, “lunch”, etc. Journalists have come up with their own term, “Giti”, but in simple terms, it is bribery.
The amount varies from institution to institution, and usually ranges between Rwf 5,000 and 10,000 and journalists shamelessly take it without batting an eyelid.
This vice is so well entrenched that some sections of the media demand it as if it was their right and will even boycott a function that has no “Giti” on the programme.
This is one area the government should seriously look into as it is an avenue for misuse of state funds. One might wonder whether not the endless stream of seminars are not organised to increase the capacity of participants, but to build the image of organisers.
It is time the practice was banished from our midst and the government could lead by doing away with this kind of institutionalised influence peddling. Maybe the media fraternity will learn to stand on its own feet instead of depending on scandalous handouts.
Nonetheless, the recent arrest of a Ministry of Public Service official, precisely on charges of bribing journalists and keeping a cut to himself, under the guise of “facilitation”, is a good beginning, and the momentum should be maintained.