The Executive Secretary of the Media High Council (MHC) Mr. Patrice Mulama has been relieved of his duties at the institution. Explaining the reasons for his removal, the chairman of the MHC Mr. Arthur Assimwe stated in a message to The chronicles, “Mulama was a senior government official
and as you know government has the prerogative power to appoint, reshuffle or fire any of its officials if need arises. Therefore, within its mandate, the government made changes in [the] MHC in which Mulama has been given temporary leave and a new acting Executive Secretary has been appointed. All these changes are aimed at re-energising the institution and ensuring it meets its mandate”
When we pressed Mr. Assimwe further to give concrete reasons for the removal of Mr. Mulama from his position, he again referred us back to the same statement. However, The Chronicles has reliably learnt that the removal of Mr. Mulama is related to the arrest in November last year of three journalists by the police.
Multiple sources intimately familiar with the decision but who preferred anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter told The Chronicles that after the arrest of Mr. Joseph Bideri, the former Managing Director of The New Times, Jean Gualbert Burasa of Rushyashya and Rene Anthere Rwanyange, the MHC wrote a letter to the Inspector-General of Police condemning the arrest. The letter was copied to a number of government institutions, including the office of the president.
The problem, according to our highly placed sources is that while government was also unhappy that the journalists had been arrested, a decision had been taken then to resolve the matter internally without any press releases but this was not entirely respected. At the time, the MHC wanted to write a press release but refrained following this decision and instead wrote the letter. By writing the letter and copying it to different authorities, according to our sources, Mr. Mulama went against the advice of his line minister and the aforementioned decision. The Ministry for Cabinet affairs headed by Hon. Protais Musoni oversees media affairs.
When contacted, the chairman of the MHC could neither deny nor confirm this. When The Chronicles called Mr. Patrice Mulama, he confirmed he had been removed from his position but declined to give any details or reasons for his sacking. He simply said, ‘The chairman can confirm on what the reasons are”. When we inquired whether his removal is related to the letter he wrote to the Commissioner General of Police, he stated: “I have no idea, it would be better if you referred that to the chairman”.
Mr. Mulama has been the executive secretary of the MHC since its birth in 2003. The new acting Executive Secretary is Mr. Emmanuel Mugisha who has been the director of Media Development at the same institution. Prior to that, Mr. Mugisha was a legal advisor in the same institution. He holds a degree in law from the National University of Rwanda.