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Governance - News - June 19, 2018

Rwanda: PROs cannot give what they do not have

Some public relations and communication officers in ministries and other state institutions say they do not have all the information about the institutions for which they should be spokespeople. They reveal this at the end of a consultation meeting between journalists and public relations and communication officers in ministries and other state institutions, organized by RGB on June 12, 2018.

In this meeting, PROs have been criticized for not providing information to journalists who need it for public use. But, anonymously, some of the PROs have revealed that when they enter the service they have their request to do what is different from what is on the job description sheet. “There are times when we are treated like housekeepers. We are not given the opportunity to know everything that happens in our institutions when we should know everything,” they say.

These PROs also indicate that in certain institutions, they have established instructions that “it is up to the chiefs to give all that is information”.

Sam Mandela, from The Office of the Government Spokesperson (OGS) that oversees and coordinates the effective communication in government institutions, also points out that PROs are sometimes asked to give information they do not know.

Sam says that the public relations and communications department still has some operating difficulties related to the lack of professionalism on the part of employees but also leaders who clog the PRO opportunities to access information. “If, for example, a PRO is not allowed to participate in the big management meetings organized by his institution, how will he know what is going on?”, he asks himself at the end of his speech, before insisting: “There are these leaders who do not know the role of the PRO, who treat them as they want without referring to their specifications”

Gerald Mbanda, Head of Media Affairs and Communication Department, warns that in the coming days, there will be a study that will determine whether public institutions have understood the importance providing public information. “We will have a list that shows how the institutions accept or do not give the information because it is very important”

Law No. 04/2013 of 08/02/2013 relating to access to information determines the information that can be given and the information that should not be given. Article 4 of this law says that it will never be published any information that may be detrimental to national security; hinder compliance with laws or justice; involve the interference in the private life of a person who is not of a general interest; violate the legitimate protection of trade secrets or any other intellectual property rights protected by law and obstruct ongoing or proposed prosecution of the administration of a public body.

Jean Baptiste Karegeya

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