The High Council of the Press (HCP) recommended to the Ministry of Information that both UMUCO Newspaper and its editor and founder Bonaventure Bizumuremyi be suspended for a year. HCP has the mandate of ensuring that the media operates professionally and responsibly, positively contributing to national reconstruction. It is also charged with regulation and protection of journalists. Within its stated responsibilities which can be summed up as regulation and promotion of the media, HCP has been able to draw a line between media freedom and destructive journalism.
We be concerned because ours is one of the media houses in the country, senior managers of whom sat last week in a peer review meeting convened by Rwanda Media Ethics Commission to examine the blatant, reckless falsehoods in the March 12 – 27 UMUCO edition.
Participants were particularly alarmed by three stories. One claimed that President Kagame faced a politico-legal dilemma following the unethical indictments of 40 RDF officers by a misused Spanish judge, fo alleged human rights abuse.
It also insensitively put him in the category of Adolph Hitler, he of the Holocaust fame and dumped RDF in the same ditch with the Nazi.
‘Go to hell, flee for dear life, remain president till death or hand self over to the ICC in The Hague’ were the four options President Kagame was given by the biweekly.
The second article alleged that Kigali continues to groan under the grip of flames from fire lit by Brig. Gen. Jack Nziza, the Joint Staff Five chief. Ironically, the administrative unit he heads is the one responsible for the Civil-Military Relations.
The third toxic missive wrote off Rwanda as a hopelessly lawless entity. Journalists who turned up for the meeting are Rwandans, all of them witnesses to the hard earned recovery and gradual rise from the 1994 Genocide, a tragedy unprecedented in the annals of national evolution.
These journalists know only to well the side of the Genocide Rwanda Patriotic Army falls. They know under whose leadership RPA was when it heroically stopped the Genocide. It is this person, Kagame, Bizumuremyi shamefully likened to Hitler and the force he guided, to the Nazi.
We are only 14 years away from the Genocide. The Overwhelming majority of Rwandan Journalists still want to talk only about its true cause, reminding adults, educating the young and informing strangers. They value sharing with readers, listeners and viewers on who stopped it, how it was stopped and the price paid.
The same national liberators have not gone to sleep because Rwanda is not yet without external threats. Nonetheless their vigilance is delivering peace and security in Kigali City and throughout the entire country.
Therefore, burning fire and lawlessness claims are unfounded and unfortunate. They are intended to cause psychological insecurity and can scare away potential investors.
Against this ill intention, everyone should stand up and be counted among fighters. They said UMUCO articles are highly irresponsible, unprofessional and negative, with a reverse contribution to national reconstruction.
HCP has been spot on. It has taken a decision that is right in the centre of its mandate.