Debate on RBA bill resumes today

Debate on the draft law that seeks to transform the state-owned Orinfor from into a public broadcaster will continue in a parliamentary standing committee today, after discussions hit a snag, last Thursday, over insufficient guarantees of its autonomy.
Orinfor's  Willy Rukundo (L), with Emmanuel Mugisha, the new MHC boss, during debate on RBA bill, at Parliament last week. The New Times  / File.
Orinfor's Willy Rukundo (L), with Emmanuel Mugisha, the new MHC boss, during debate on RBA bill, at Parliament last week. The New Times / File.

Debate on the draft law that seeks to transform the state-owned Orinfor from into a public broadcaster will continue in a parliamentary standing committee today, after discussions hit a snag, last Thursday, over insufficient guarantees of its autonomy.

The public broadcaster, to be renamed the Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA), is seeking autonomy in order to adequately serve the interests of the general public.

Separate consultations by MPs and government technocrats started Thursday afternoon to chart the way forward.

Willy Rukundo, the acting director general of Orinfor, said yesterday: “on our part that is what we have been doing; we are going back for the committee tomorrow [Monday]. I don’t know what the MPs have been doing.”

The debate in the Lower Chamber’s Political Affairs and Gender Committee was put on hold as lawmakers and stakeholders realised that the bill was drafted in a manner that failed to acknowledge RBA’s status as a special agency that required independence.

After the draft was generally viewed as being no different from legislations for government parastatals, the meeting unanimously agreed that this would not give the new agency the flexibility and the independence it needs to serve the public in a more dynamic and faster way.

The vice chairperson of the committee, Yvonne Uwayisenga, confirmed yesterday they would resume the debate today.

The RBA’s responsibilities will, among others, include distributing signals, providing impartial and accurate national and global news, providing listeners and viewers with educational programmes, and promoting Rwandan culture.

james.karuhanga@newtimes.co.rw

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