Wednesday , 6 July 2022
Is Hery Rajaonarimampianina possibly a predator to the freedom of the? The Head of State has quite cleverly managed to capitalize on the problematic situation he unwillingly got engulfed in by his State Minister, party leader and friend Rivo Rakotovao. For neither judges nor public prosecutors are blamed by the people in first line for sending reporters behind bars in general. Empowered politicians are.

Freedom of the press: predators and victims

“As far as I am concerned, as President of the Republic, I clearly stand against the imprisonment of journalists”! So sounded the most important sentence pronounced in relation with the Madagascar Matin legal case. “Every citizen has the right to be informed without restriction, excepted highly sensitive information” said Hery Rajaonarimampianina. “There are many people who keep drawing my intention towards the need to set boundaries” he argued before referring to the Constitution, “The Constitution guarantees freedom of expression provided that it does not harm other rights ” and outlining the importance of preserving social peace and mutual respect between institutions and media groups.
Everything is for the best in the end, although the outcome of the dispute between Rivo Rakotovao, Jean Luc Rahaga and Didier Ramanoelina was predictable from scratch. Leaving this potential political landmine field expand was actually off the point to a President Rajaonarimampianina on the verge of chairing the Summit of the Indian Ocean Commission’s heads of states in Moroni, an event postponed once when the French President François Hollande had to keep away for a score of his compatriots got claimed by the crash of an Air Algeria plane in Mali. His ministerial acolyte jeopardized nothing but his rule’s image, potentially tarnished by accusations of democratic deviation.
Not too long ago so that it was remembered, the head of state left a piece of his mind and a warning to a press which dared criticizing his trips abroad. When the situation escalated, support to Jean Luc Rahaga and Didier Ramanoelina proved so widespread that the ruling power thought twice before eventually flexing muscles again. The President settled the pending clash by suggesting Rivo Rakotovao order and others to withdraw the complaint for slandering while they could do so as an evidence of greatness and not of weakness. But in the end, pressure from down to top actually availed. Journalists, students, civil society members and the inevitable political opportunists recovering front lines whenever it comes to challenge the ruling power, have joined hands to embarass the target.
Courage and/or recklessness from Madagascar Matin
As a reminder, the daily newspaper Madagascar Matin published a letter which denounced ruling powers’ schemes and suspiciously pointed at current members of the government and their alleged involvement in transitional dark business. “The way the investigation was tackled suggested from scratch that it would end up with a jail sentence” revealed Jean Luc Rahaga on a private radio station’s waves shortly after his release. The publishing director expressed his amazement at the State Minister’s official reaction as he said to have been shocked by the fact of being told to be a vile robber infamously fueling the rosewood trade. “About him only three lines were scripted in relation with tears and a suitcase, and in no with anything like rosewood” pleaded the responsible blamed for the publication.
Didier Ramanoelina stressed the looming danger for the freedom of the press, particularly “when a newspaper dares to publish a single letter, and gets a taste of the big stick as retribution” he sighed. Indeed, the famous letter was sent to a score of media groups. Some of them refrained from publishing it, others did not although seeing to the removal of the incriminated ministers’ names. Madagascar Matin alone issued the original letter without alteration. Views are diverging inside its very guild. Some ones do revere the editor’s courage while some others blame him for looking down on the consequences of such an action for himself and his newsgroup. This trial was first and foremost a collective warning to the Malagasy journalists still yearning for a larger freedom of expression