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Media Council of Tanzania Website
The Ethics Committee of the Media Council of Tanzania has cleared three complaints during its mediation session held on January 30, 2013 and advised the comedy group Orijino Komedi which had complained against four newspapers published by Global Publishers to seek redress elsewhere.
Reading the ruling on the group’s complaint, the chairperson of the Ethics Committee, rtd Justice Thomas Mihayo said it appeared that the representative of the Global Publishers, Richard Manyota, who appeared before the committee was not interested in mediation as he evaded most of the questions raised during the session.
Manyota responding to some questions raised by members of the Ethics Committee said he was not in a position to answer them as he had only come to see some members of the orijino Komedi whom he had been told had rejected an agreement he had reached on the stories which the group had complained about
Representative of the group Sekioni David Ndeketela had acknowledged that Global Publishers had contacted one, Christine who owns one company engaged in business with the group. However he said she does not represent the interest of the group.
Orijino Komedi claimed that on different dates in August and September 2012, Global Publishers, maliciously published defamatory stories against the members of the comedy group through its newspapers namely Ijumaa, Ijumaa Wikienda, Uwazi and Risasi.
The story headlined “Mateso ya Vengu wachawi ni Orijino Komedi wenyewe” literally meant that the comedy group was responsible for the disease which attacks Vengu, one of their colleagues, whose really name is Joseph Shamba..
The group representative claimed before the Committee that the papers intention was to “finish off the group” and take it out business.
He said the publication of the malicious stories almost crippled the group as it lost advertisement from some of its key sponsors.
The group denied the allegation that they were the cause of the suffering of Vengu and instead said they have been putting so much effort and commitment to ensure he receives the best treatment.
Instead of responding to the complaint, the representative of Global publishers claimed that the company has helped to promote some of members of the group in its publications to rise to prominence.
A claim for apology raised by the Fair Competition Commission (FCC) against Raia Mwema newspaper was dismissed as the Ethics Committee deemed there was no cause for doing that and instead pointed out that a proposal by the newspaper to publish series of articles on the activities of the Commission would have been useful.
The FCC claimed that the paper on its March 21, 2012 issue published a libelous article against the Director General of the FCC, one Dr. Geoffrey E. Mariki.
The article was headlined“Kashfa betri bandia za simu Kariakoo yawagusa vigogo” is claimed to link the complainant to alleged flooding of Counterfeit phone batteries in Kariakoo, Dar es Salaam.
Raia Mwema’s Editor Godfrey Dilunga in addition to verbal response during the mediation session also submitted documental evidence including a copy of the resignation letter puported to have been written by the FCC boss.
The Ethics Committee also ruled that the Citizen newspaper and the Legal Human Rights Centre (LHRC) meet within 14 day to sort an imbroglio resulting from the publication of story quoting a 2006 auditors’ report alleging financial mismanagement and embezzlement at the centre.
After the meeting ,which will be coordinated by the Media Council of Tanzania, the Citizen should publish its outcome within seven days, the committee ruled.
The Citizen published the story on May 3, 2012 which the centre claimed as defamatory and false and had injured its reputation.
The story which was headlined “Scam claims hit top NGO” claimed among other things, that the LHRC was in crisis over claims of wanton embezzlement of funds, made by a management, financial and audit consulting firm with international connections.
Harold Sungusia, who represented the LHRC said at the mediation session the old report which was presented as current in the Citizen story had adverse effects on the NGO.
The Centre’s Director, Dr. Helen Kijo Bisimba who was widely quoted in the Citizen story was present during the mediation.
The Citizen’s Editor, Bakari Machumu parried most of the claims pointing out the story though was based on 2006 audit report by Price WatersCoopers was carried on good faith with no sinister motive.
He said though the report was old, but as long as it was not published in public it was an untold story.
Exchanges between the two sides during mediation reflected that much water had passed under the bridge as the conflicting parties had held high level meeting, but could not sort out the issue.
The mediation session chair, Justice Mihayo noted that the two sides were deeply divided due to egocentrism.
“It was matter that could have been easily sorted out between the two sides which enjoy good relations as reflected in their cooperation in sharing views in the constitutional review process”, pointed out the Secretary of the Ethics Committee, Kajubi Mukajanga.
It is baffling, said Mukajanga who is also the Executive Secretary MCT, that the two sides could not solve the issue after a high level meeting held after the publication of the article.
In its ruling the Committee concurred with the LHRC that it could not provide a report that cleared the centre after the damning Price WaterCoopers report which allegedly stained the centre’s financial management credentials.
The Committee also pointed out that it was wrong for the LHRC to send a demand note to the Citizen for an apology while they were still negotiation to resolve the issue and likewise it noted the response by the paper’s lawyer exacerbated the problem.
A complaint raised by East African Television (EATV) presenter, Patrick Nyembera, was resolved quickly after the representative of Sani newspaper, Sammy Polli agreed to run an apology in the newspaper as they established later that they allegations were false.
Nyembera had claimed that the paper on May 26-29 2012 and June 2-5 2012 published false and defamatory stories against him. The stories were headlined “Mtangazaji asakwa na polisi kwa tuhuma za kutishia” (Presenter wanted by police for causing terror)and“Mtangazaji wa TV Dar Mbaroni”(TV Presenter Dar in police custody).
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