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Judge Mihayo bounces back as MCT President

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Retired Justice Thomas Mihayo bounced back as the President of the Governing Board of the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) in a sweeping election victory during the Council’s 19th General National Convention (NGC) in Dar es Salaam.

Mihayo scooped 59 votes from the delegates to the annual convention with only two rejecting votes in the elections which climaxed the one-day convention held on September 29, 2017.

With the victory, Mihayo will lead MCT for another three years. This is his second and final term to serve as President as required by the Council’s constitution.

Mihayo a retired High Court Judge, had initially served as the Chairperson of MCT’s Ethics Committee before assuming the presidency after winning in elections for the top position in the Council held during an historic NGC held in 2014 at Kimalang’ombe in Bagamoyo where the Council plans to set up its headquarters.

Mihayo was the sole candidate in latest elections held at the Kisenga LAPF International Conference Center.

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Alongside Mihayo, veteran journalist and broadcaster, Hassan Mitawi retained his post of Vice President to Council after bagging 55 votes against seven which opposed him.

Mitawi a prominent figure in media in Zanzibar and who had served in various capacities in public television and the department of information and finally as Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information was not present during the elections as reports said he is Germany.

For Mitawi   for winning the election, he will serve second and final term as the Council’s constitution dictates.

The election has brought in four new faces to the Council’s Governing Board, three of them have media background.

They are Editor of Channel Ten Television , Dina Chahali, the Executive Editor of Mwananchi Communications Limited – the publishers of Mwananchi and the Citizen Bakari Machumu and Veteran Broadcaster and Director of the Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) Edda Sanga.

Another new face to the MCT board is Anna Henga, a prolific human rights advocate holding a senior position in the Legal and Human Rights Centre.

Previous Board Members who have swung back ,an important requisite of the MCT Constitution for continuity , are Wallace Mauggo the Managing Editor of the Guardian, retired judge Juxon Mlay who had served as the chairperson of the Council’s Ethics Council and Dr. Edmund Mndolwa, a financial expert who fulfills another important aspect of the constitution which emphasizes that one of the members of the Governing Board must have financial expertise.

Only one previous member of the Board, Prof. Bernadette Killian lost the election whereas two – Tuma Abdallah, the Deputy Managing of the Daily News and prominent Businessman Ali Mfuruki had opted out and asked not to be considered for election as they had pressing and tight official and business schedules.

Other two members of the outgoing Board, Badra Masoud and Rose Haji were not eligible for re-election as they had completed serving two- three years terms in the Board.

Apart from the electing the board members, delegates to the NGC also adopted the Council’s audited financial report for 2016. The Auditors firm- Auditax International which was appointed by the Board in agreement with the donors, had issued the Council with clean audit report for 2016 accounts, a feature the Council has been maintaining since its establishment 1995.

The Convention also ratified the appointment of auditors for the period which ended December 31, 2016 and the appointment of External Auditors for the period ending December 31, 2017.

Speaking during the opening and closing of the convention, the President of the Governing Board, retired judge Mihayo implored MCT members to reassert determination for sustainability of the Council warning that the donors who have been the supporting it are opting out due to various reasons including the influx of migrants in Europe.  

It is now becoming increasingly difficult to continue with dependence on traditional donors, Mihayo said.

The annual report by the MCT Executive Secretary Kajubi Mukajanga pointed that the donors have changed style as they do not provide for basket funding and instead their support is based preferable programmes.

Following the new arrangement a number of activities that were conducted by the Council including training for journalists in the various parts of the country now do not enjoy the support of the traditional donors.

The Council of now   taking measures to seek other partners who would support the activities which are not entertained by donors in the new support dispensation.

The members were repeatedly reminded to play their part by paying annual membership dues.

It is pathetic that the majority of the members are well behind in payment of the annual members whose rates are small and by paying such dues, the members would simply be reflecting commitment as the envisaged total collection is not enough to run the council , it was noted during the convention.

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The one-day convention was preceded by the Commemoration of the Right to Know Day  marked internally and annually on September 28.

The main worry raised and expressed by various speakers on marking of the Day is the increasing shrinking space in freedom of expression in the country.

The present regime was accused of instilling fear among the populace.

People are scared to talk, politicians are worried as the regime has barred them from holding rallies to sell their policies and agendas, and it was noted.

Though there is no law for blocking the rallies, people are scared and cannot dare to challenge the authorities, it was noted.

One speaker said that the situation as it is so scarily that it was even difficult to get guest of honour to grace the meeting on the Right to Know Day.

The meeting was addressed by former chairperson of the Human Rights and Good Governance Commission retired Judge Amiri Ramadhan Manento who had said that when he was approached, he initially hesitated to come out from retirement to speak to the public.

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However,   despite acknowledging the prevailing circumstances in the country, it was generally noted and resolved during the exchange in the meeting that the people must be bold and stand for their lawful rights such as the right to get information from the government.

During the meeting held at the same Kisenga LAPF international Conference Centre which was jointly organized by the Coalition on the Right to Information (CoRI) chaired by the Media Council of Tanzania, the Media Institute of Sothern Africa (MISA), Tanzania chapter, awarded the Golden Lock to the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) symbolizing that it is the most secretive institution in the country for the year and the Golden Key to the National Health Insurance (NIHF) as the most open public institutions.

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