Tanzania: Media law to prevent personal attacks – Mkuchika

george_mkuchikaThe government has said the proposed new media law will, among other things, prevent owners of private media outlets from waging personal attacks against others through media.(pictured:George Mkuchika)

Minister for Information, Culture and Sports George Mkuchika told the National Assembly here over the weekend that the government would not sit back and watch as people keep on misusing the media.

The law will transform them, we are tired of their personal attacks through the media, Mkuchika told legislators who had challenged the government to state its position in the wake of increasing personal attacks through the media.

Presenting the views of the Parliamentary Committe on Community Develoment, vice- chairman Haroub Masoud blamed government for failing to bring the Media Act to the parliament early enough, claiming that the media was slowly getting out of control.

He commended the governments move that saw deregistration of some 29 newspapers.

Media owners, editors and other stakeholders are violating freedom of media for their own benefit, forgetting that media need to serve the public in general, he said.

The Koani member of parliament said the government should intervene whenever wrangles arise, but above all, it should ensure the law is tabled in parliament as soon as possible.

The legislators queried why it was taking long for government to submit the proposed media bill, which some said was hatched since 2008, when the stakeholders presented their earlier proposals.

Others said inadequate education among most journalists hinders them to work as good journalists and cited their poor pay that subjected them to manipulation of corrupt individuals.

Dimani MP Hafidh Ali Tahir (CCM) claimed that instead of reporting issues affecting society, journalists in Tanzania have been mainly writing stories that incite the people.

Responding Mkuchika said: The new law will force employers to contribute to a certain fund for training of all journalists in the country, said Mkuchika.

Special Seats MP Ms Elieta Switi (CCM) said media regulation should be enhanced to reduce the problems currently facing the sector, adding that sometimes, the media misreport issues or report in favour of certain people in society.

Winding up the budget speech, Mkuchuka said history shows that media is very powerful and that if not controlled, it can lead the country into complete chaos.

He said even the 1994 Rwanda genocide started with malicious broadcast by a radio station and the print media.

Hamad Rashid, leader of the opposition in parliament, told this reporter that the problem in Tanzania may not be the spirit of the government’s proposed media policy, but its letter and possibly the timing.

Guardian on Sunday

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