A visitor to the National information Bureau (ORINFOR) website would expect to find an interactive, multipurpose, attractively designed interface with daily, possibly hourly, updated information and an archive that allows the user to access different information on Rwanda.
One would expect to find dates on major national events, excerpts of speeches by national leaders, policy statements, newly enacted laws and Presidential or Ministerial Orders, news on investments and Kigali OTC Market, interest and exchange rates, the economy, news on research carried out in Rwanda, progress of national programs on health, poverty alleviation, the environment and education.
One would expect to find links to Government Ministries and Agencies. One would expect easy access to important documents like VISION 2020 and Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategies (EDPRS).
After all the National Bureau of Information does not deal with immunization, national security or school examinations but information.
The only thing that may be news to the person visiting the ORINFOR Website is that the Office intends to change itself to Rwanda Broadcasting Corporation possibly because President Kagame in one Press Conference mentioned the need to change its name.
Maybe it is because Kenyans combined the Voice of Kenya radio and TV to form Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), Uganda followed suit with UBC, Tanzania with TBC and then Rwanda must copy them and form RBC.
Rwanda has several private broadcasters; ORINFOR could as well be renamed the Public Broadcasting Network/Corporation or National Broadcasting Corporation. Maybe it is good to copy from our neighbours.
Change of name or not ORINFOR will need to do a lot if it is to meet the minimum expectation of Rwandans. I may not know a thing about the French La Nouvelle Relève newspaper but getting a copy of Kinyarwanda IMVAHO NSHYA Newspaper is a problem.
With hundreds of employees one can hardly get a current copy of the newspaper even though it is a bi-weekly in the city suburbs let alone in the countryside and even then creativity does not seem to matter to the powers behind the publication.
Whereas Radio has improved over the years, their counterparts at Rwanda Television will need another decade going by the pace of improvements there.
Rwanda Television may be one of a handful of TV stations in the world that broadcasts “live recorded news live”.
Why would a news team record the News headlines and replay the recorded headline news during the same broadcast?
The News in English is characterized by horrible grammar, pronunciation and direct translation which distort the meaning.
A visitor to RTV website is pleasantly surprised to learn that, “Rwanda TV (RTV) News is broadcasted on Rwanda TV daily. It covers the most prominent and topical events both of the national level and the international one…..Moreover Rwanda Television (RTV) reports on the innovations and the latest updates in such spheres as science, engineering, economy and besides it provides coverage from the crisis zones from all over the world” and that is because, “A high level of professionalism of the hosts and TV-reporters contributes to a constant success of Rwanda TV among the Rwandans”.
Go RTV, Go.
The problems in ORINFOR may be blamed on our history: it was an organization where recruitment was based on the demands of people high up the echelons of power “sending” people to be recruited.
There was no formal recruitment process to vet out the competencies of potential employees.
A story is told of one powerful person who was told that the person he had sent could not do anything at ORINFOR and he responded by telling the hapless person reporting; “then, find her what she can do”.
One recent entrant told whoever cared to listen that he had been sent to ORINFOR to destroy Akazu k’Abagande (group of Ugandans); not to strengthen the Institution after all the position was not advertised for others to compete.
The way recruitment was done created different sources of authority; a senior employee could reprimand his junior because the latter was “sent” by someone “high up” and the situation has not changed much.
The end result is that employees grouped into different cliques with each group trying to position themselves in terms of whose influence they enjoy.
There is much the policy makers and those who appoint the leaders at ORINFOR could do to help the Institution. The first would be to grant the Office financial autonomy to generate and utilize their resources.
The leaders of the Office will have to draw strategies to market and sell their products and services instead of waiting for clients to request for the service.
Instead of waiting for funds from Government coffers, the office should contribute to national development by paying taxes or dividends.
This will mean that the office will have autonomy to hire its employees and appropriately remunerate them.
They should also be in position to acquire skills without waiting for the Ministry of Public Service and Labour to tell them to train at RIAM.
What ORINFOR needs most is to separate the several potentially viable Corporations that make up the Office.
The Print media part of the Office should be given autonomy to gather and publish information through the press in the three national languages.
The print part of ORINFOR which is underutilized could be better run as a commercial enterprise that pays taxes to the Government with a separate administration and management.
Finally those entrusted with the management of the different departments that make up the Office should be held accountable to the people of Rwanda on the content, quality and ethics of what they publish and broadcast.
Talking about responsibility, the organizers of the concluded Basketball tournament should be held to account for degrading the national flag.
During the awards ceremony for teams and individuals at the end of the tournament the podium was draped in the Rwanda national flag and goons of all types were beamed across the reaches of Rwanda TV trampling the beautiful tri-colours of our flag.
They would start from the green to the yellow in the middle and finally to the blue part of the National Flag.
What is shameful is that flags of other countries participating in the basketball tournament majestically flew high as Rwanda’s was used as a carpet.
The dignitaries there simply grinned with pride for the cameras as the national flag was debased.
Honourables the flag those goons trampled on is the same flag that is escorted with maximum security during Official National functions.