The media has been challenged to take a leading role in the constitutional reforms and turn the whole process into a school of democracy.
Speaking during a breakfast talk on” Media in Constitution Making”, organised by the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), renowned Law professor Issa Shivji urged the media to seize this opportunity of the constitution reform which he qualified as rare to raise pertinent issues and enlighten the public.
“This opportunity will not come again, the media must utilize it”, he counseled.
He said the constitution is about everything…. the political system, economic, education, health, agriculture and all aspects of life and aspirations of the people.
It is unfortunate that the media has so far not raised pertinent issues relating to the constitutional reforms, he noted at the Breakfast held at the Courtyard Hotel in Dar es Salaam on April 30, 2012.
Professor Shivji cited an initial position by the government that the Commission on the Constitution would not comprise politicians but only well groomed experts.
However after the President met with political parties, the commission now draws representatives from political parties.
The media he said has not written on this issue adding that it is imperative that it should also be more analytical.
Unlike the politicians whose one of their qualities is inconsistency, the media should always be reliable, added.
Deus Kibamba of the Constitutional Forum urged the media to strive ensure that the right to Information and the media‘s role is guaranteed by the constitution.
Once that is achieved, he said, it would be compelling to have the legislation on the freedom of the information.
A clause in the constitutional reform legislation which bars other bodies and individuals from conducting educational campaigns on constitutional changes unless they get permits was roundly criticized during the meeting.
Speaking earlier, the moderator of the meeting, Nicholls K. Boas, a communications lecturer of the University of Maryland in the United States of America said that the media is a vehicle for disseminating information and that it was powerful that people trust it.
As we are in the process of constitutional reform, media freedom must be enhanced, said Boas a Tanzanian who is currently in the country on various consultancy assignments.
He emphasised fairness and responsibility on part of the media noting however that the media does not go to bed with the government… it must be independent and fair.
This breakfast talk is part of the eight planned for Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar in the Council’s annual plan. Six will be held in Dar es Salaam while two in Zanzibar.
According to an official of the Council, they will cover different issues.