The central purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with accurate and reliable information to function in a free society. For consistently violating the core principle and betraying the primary purpose of journalism, journalists in Rwanda want UMUCO Newspaper and its editor and proprietor to be punished. Rwanda Media Ethics Commission (RMEC), a peer evaluation arm of Rwanda Journalists Association concluded at a well attended consultative meeting that the paper and its chief gatekeeper Bonaventure Bizumuremyi contravened the popular tenet of journalism.
In its March 12 – 27 issue, out of the blue UMUCO likened President Paul Kagame to Adolf Hitler and Rwanda Defence Forces to the Nazis in an article which also gave the President four ‘solutions to his plight’; to commit suicide, flee to exile, cling to power for life or surrender to ICC in Hague.
It sweepingly stated that this was inevitable given the precarious position the Commander-in-Chief finds himself in after 40 of his most senior officers were recently indicted by a reckless, politically motivated Spanish judge, working to undermine the Kigali government.
But UMUCO went a step ahead of the judge by including Kagame among the indicted, thereby stripping him of the immunity accruing to him by virtue of being a serving head of state.
According to the judge and UMUCO, the crime is the killings Kagame and his men carried out in 1994. This is what journalists found outrageous.
For the leader and the force to be accused of participating in the Genocide they instead stopped, to the journalists was incredible.
For an army endlessly engaged in peace keeping in trouble spots on the continent such as Darfur, as a journalist comparing it to the Nazis is professional blasphemy.
To personally thank RDF for its noble spirit was among the core reasons President George W. Bush of the United States included Rwanda on the list of only five African countries he had to visit before he leaves office at the end of this year.
For a Kagame who just a week ago was in Abuja on the invitation of the Nigerian President to give a keynote address on nation building at an event commemorating the life of an activist. It was simply an acceptable, to say the least, comparing him to a killer responsible for six million Jewish lives.
To them the paper and its editor are out to mislead, cause hate, contempt, fear and uncertainty among Rwandans. It is a sharp contradiction to the central purpose of journalism of providing accurate and reliable data, designed to help the citizens make informed decisions in their day-today lives. It is for all this and much more that they were condemned, the rest being for the High Council of the Press and Rwandan courts of law to decide