Gasabo: Deputy Mayor denies allegations of insulting media in public

The controversial speech of Raymond Mberabahizi, deputy mayor in Gasabo district raised anger in minds of journalists. When he was in Rutunga sector, Raymond told people that “radio workers cannot advocate for population, as long as they don’t do it for themselves”.

Since Feb 15th, the speech of Raymond has been shared in various groups of journalists on WhatsApp. In brief, his message was to warn citizens about wrong advocators, apart from voted instances. Those wrong advocators include radio workers (as he says) –journalists. “This constitutes deign towards media work and media practitioners”, journalist argue in groups.

The speech: “Like those who come to you, vowing advocacy under pretext that they work on radios. Who can advocate for you, more than the village chief you voted? Who else, apart from the council member you voted yourselves? Who, if not the sector’s officials? Only those have given power to advocate for you”, says Raymond Chretien Mberabahizi, Deputy Mayor in charge of Economic Development in Gasabo district.

He further alleged bribe to those workers of radios, but meaningless; and asked how they can help people before helping themselves to get the small amount of money.

“You give them 2000- 3000Rwfs, how can this guy advocate for people, while himself is indigent, unable to get 3000Rwfs? How, and what could he say for you?”, added Raymond.

Through their groups, journalists considered this as an insult to media, and in public. One says “if he knows some journalists who ask money, he would have come to them and talk in a press conference, but not in public as he did”.

However, Deputy Mayer Raymond denies these allegations, recognizing importance of media. Talking to Igihe.com, he regrets that people (including journalists) misunderstood his message, and took opportunity to make it clear.

“Anyone can be misunderstood, especially when people don’t meet to discuss…myself know how much important media is. I can’t deign media, I only talked about swindlers, who promise advocating for people”, he says. He added he was mentioning any person, including leaders and journalists, who swindle people under the name of his responsibilities.

The Rwanda Media Commission, media regulatory body, is not well informed about the case. However, in case some journalists feel discomfort, they could appeal. Emmanuel Mugisha, is the Executive Secretary of RMC. “First of all, journalists’ mission is not advocacy, it is rather reporting. Collecting information and publish. But if any journalist feel discomfort with the speech, he/she may say it, and I think Deputy Mayor could make an official apology”.

Raymond Chretien Mberabahizi, is a deputy mayer in Gasabo since end 2014. Before he was in Kinyinya sector, as Executive Secretary, and this pathway gave him opportunity to work with media in all ways.

In 2015, Transparency International Rwanda made a survey on corruption in media. Print and radio media are most corrupted, on the demand of especially on the demand (media) side, and most of time in cash. According to Immacule Ingabire, chairperson of TIR, financial distress compels some journalists into taking bribes.

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Jean Baptiste Karegeya

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