The Media High Council (MHC) yesterday sensitized local government officials on the role of the media. The one-day forum focused mainly on the rights and obligations of the media as well as the rights of the public in the media.
Speaking at the meeting, Patrice Mulama, the Executive Secretary of MHC, said that it is vital for the local administration, especially where public service delivery has been sort of decentralized, to acquaint them with the issues of access to information.
“We have been getting some complaints from journalists with regard to issues of access to information, especially at the local government levels, and we thought this was important for you to know the legal provisions and the importance of abiding by the legal obligations,” he explained.
He added that showing the local leaders the link between the media and good governance is of paramount importance.
“Because we believe that it is in our common interest to respect the media law and to use the media as the Fourth Estate, especially in promoting transparency, accountability and giving the population a voice,” he noted.
Mulama advised the local leaders to use the media if they wanted to achieve their development and social welfare objectives and promote good governance.
“We have begun with Kigali City, specifically with Nyarugenge, and Gasabo districts; next week we shall meet leaders from Kicukiro and Bugesera districts,” he said.
“By the end of this year we shall have covered Kigali city and Eastern province and by next year we shall go to other provinces as well “
According to Alex Semitari, the Executive Secretary of Nyarugenge, the media tend to exaggerate information they get from the local leaders and write what they were not told.
“We call upon the journalists to be professional in their work and cooperate with us in order to promote the development in the country,” he said.
Furaha Aline Niwemukobwa, the Good Governance and Territorial administrator in Gasabo District, said that it is not easy to get media coverage adding that there are so many procedures they go through to access the public media.
Speaking at the forum, Theodore Ntalindwa the Director of Umwezi Newspaper, stressed that, the media needs to be supported financially by the government in order to develop.
The meeting brought together members from local government, police, the army, media, National Security Service, public relations and the MHC.