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Media Council of Tanzania Website
The media fraternity has been advised not to domesticate the question of right to information legislation and confine it within its ambit but broaden efforts to realize it as a national issue.
Veteran journalist and media trainer, Dr. Gideon Shoo, said even if the legislation is enacted there are still pieces of obsolete legislations which would restrict its full implementation.
He was speaking during a breakfast talk meeting organized by the Media Council of Tanzania on August 30,2013 which brought together editors, senior journalists, media trainers and media stakeholders.
Dr. Shoo who was a discussant at the meeting whose theme was the Status of the Freedom of Information in Tanzania and its Implications for the Right to Know, gave a narration of the efforts by the fraternity to spearhead for the enactment of media friendly legislations - the right to information and media services since early 2000.
He claimed that the efforts initiated by Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) which even involved the government were aborted after a dubious and questionable media bill was posted on the website of the Government information Services (MAELEZO) in 2006.
The dubious posting caused a stir within the media fraternity and the gains of the efforts initiated by MISA were compromised as the government was accused of attempting to trample on media freedom.
Expressing concern on that disappointing intervention, Dr. Shoo, suspected that the process initiated by MISA which emphasised on better training for journalists was infiltrated by a mole of the media owners who feared on the costs – both for training and bloated wage bill for quality journalists.
Expounding on the need to broaden efforts for realizing the right to information as a national issue, he cited the laws of the police, or prison as some of the legislations which would hamper full implementation of the media oriented legislations.
He emphasised that there was a need for laws to be harmonized to facilitate smooth application of the right to information legislation.
He said in 1976, the government instead of creating conducing environment for freedom of information, it enacted repressive laws such as the newspaper act applied to ban newspapers pointing out that such laws should be repealed.
Earlier Peter Mataba, a lecturer at St Augustine University (SAUT) underscored the need for the public to easily access information and that efforts should be made to waive restrictions and impediments.
Mataba was presenting a paper at the Breakfast meeting which is organized by the Media Council each month.
The meeting was moderated by Deodatus Balile, the Managing Editor of Jamhuri weekly newspaper.
Dr. shoo, moderator Balile and the meeting’s host, the MCT Manager for Ethics and Arbitration, Allan Lawa, concurred on the question of asking journalists to develop passion for reading to be conversant with various issues.
Lawa also appealed to media outlets to accommodate journalism graduates sponsored by MCT to practice as interns in their newsrooms to promote quality journalists and future leaders in the profession.
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