A delegation of Swedish parliamentarians visited the offices of the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) in Dar e s Salaam on February 8,2012 to get first hand information of the country’s media landscape.
The Executive Secretary of the MCT, Kajubi Mukajanga, briefed the 12-member delegation on the historical developments that led to the founding of the MCT in 1995. The delegation is on official visit to Tanzania.
He informed that media stakeholders were galvanized into action and established the self-regulatory Council thwarting a move by the government to set up a statutory regulatory body to check on ethical and professional lapses of the newly emerging media outlets.
The Swedish parliamentarians had asked wide-ranging issues on media coverage, its development, governance and politics.
He told the parliamentarians that many private media outlets were established after the liberalization of the economy early 1990s and the re-introduction of pluralistic political system same time.
Unfortunately, he pointed out, as there were few trained media practitioners, and so most of the established media outlets were compelled to engage staff with rudimentary or no experience at all in print or broadcasting journalism.
This, Mukajanga remarked, resulted in wide-spread ethical lapses that prompted the government to consider introducing a statutory mechanism to control the media.
The Council with the support from donors and especially Sweden initially addressed itself on the question of imparting knowledge on professional ethics, he said.
However, it later realized that the media practitioners also needed to be trained and hence it embarked on ambitious training programmes.
He also told them that the competency based curriculum for, certificate and diploma level journalism training colleges prepared by MCT which will be used by media training institutions in the country has recently been approved by the National Council of Technical Education (NACTE).
He also briefed the delegation on the legal impediments, citing numerous laws that are inhibiting on press freedom and especially suffocating the zeal and responsibility of media to practice public interest journalism.
On the contribution of the media in governance and broadening of democracy, the parliamentarians were told that since the liberalization, the media has served as effective platform for opposition political parties to articulate their policies and views.
The media, the Swedes were told, has been instrumental in exposing scandals and grand corruption, some implicating very high caliber state officials who were forced to resign from their positions.
As a result of the media playing its watch dog role responsibly, officials are now more careful and even attempt to cover their tracks in suspicious deals to avoid exposure.
On the other hand the Parliamentarians were told the media is operating under difficult environment due to both limited financial and human resources.
In the meeting with the Swedish Parliamentarians, Mukajanga was accompanied by two MCT officials – Publications, Research and Documentation Manager John Mireny and the Editor Hamis Mzee.