Rwanda's domestic press corps

Published on by KANYARWANDA

Monday, March 8, 2010

Rwanda's domestic press corps
East Africa's Independent Media Review article on the Rwandan Press:

There are more than 60 registered print and broadcast media houses but less than 20 of these are active. A close analysis indicates that almost all are either owned by the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) or are godfathered by very top spy chiefs. 

Rwanda has only one English language daily, The New Times, which is fully owned by the ruling RPF. On its board sit senior RPF cadres and close aides of President Kagame. The chairman of The New Times is Rwanda’s spy chief, LT Col. Emmanuel Ndahiro, the Executive Secretary of National Security Services. Ndahiro was among founders of the government mouthpiece and is widely said to be the invisible strong force behind Rwanda’s political scene as he is very close to the President.  He runs the affairs of The New Times like his office and hand picks the top management.

But sources tell ET that Rwanda Dispatch has been wholly bought by the RPF and its content is closely monitored by State House. With presidential elections scheduled for later this year, anything is possible and Kagame and the ruling party will do anything to get all positive media attention to counter the acidic reportage of tabloids like Umuseso and Umuvugizi or international media like BBC and VOA.

"What do you people call press freedom? Is it the right to abuse others or the right to express your opinion and access information without hindrance?”  . . .  Katende [owner of the Rwanda Dispatch] says.

Rwanda News Agency, the national news service, is also said to be owned by the ruling RPF and its board is chaired by Ndahiro who monitors its content on a daily basis.

“At first we [Rwanda News Agency] wanted to stand out as an independent media house that is professional and not like the New Times. But this seems not to be working as we are receiving lots of pressure from the owners who want us to sing the RPF song. Though we are owned by the system, some of us find this very difficult as it compromises our professional ethics,” the source, pleading for anonymity, added. 

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