Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports Sethi Kamuhanda has refuted claims raised by the Tanzania Editors Forum (TEF) in its criticism of top officials of his ministry for alleged failure to grace a Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) meeting in Morogoro early this week.
The PS refuted the claims yesterday in Dar es Salaam when speaking to journalists in response to a statement by TEF, which was issued and published by some newspapers.
The statement had criticized the government, through the Ministry of Information, for having skipped the MCT meeting which it had organized for TEF members.
The PS said he was shocked by the TEF’s published claims, dismissing them as both untrue and baseless. He took particular exception to the editors’ claim that the ministry officials’ snubbing of the meeting was “an indication that both the minister and the PS will not be cooperative in ensuring the proposed information law comes to fruition”.
The PS said there was no bad blood between him and his newly appointed deputy minister as alleged, cautioning that the TEF must surely know about this. He said the minister was a fellow worker in the same ministry before her new appointment.
“I am surprised to hear that we don’t see eye to eye. But I am even more surprised and disappointed that an august body as the Editors’ Forum could make such a baseless and wild claim,” Kamuhanda said.
He said he was in no mood to seek for an apology from the editors, saying the move would only go to making an already bad situation worse, but maintained that he bore no grudge whatsoever against the forum.
The PS, himself a professional journalist and seasoned editor, noted that he had been in the media ever since he started as a junior reporter and gradually rose through the ranks to become managing editor of the government-owned newspapers. “I bear no grudge against the editors because they are my brethren,” he said.
Kamuhanda said he could not attend the MCT-organized meeting because he had to attend a parliamentary committee meeting on the very morning he was required to be at Morogoro.
“I notified MCT executive director Kajubi Mukajanga about my sudden inability to grace the opening of their meeting in good time,” he said.
Elaborating, Kamuhanda said the MCT invitation to open the meeting was initially sent to Deputy Minister Dr. Fenella Mukangara, who later, “due to some other pressing matters, delegated the invitation to me which, coincidentally, coincided with the day I had to attend the parliamentary committee meeting which I couldn’t possibly bypass.”
“I respect the minister as my boss. I do not think there is anything wrong between us,” he said, wondering why the Editors Forum didn’t have the decency to seek clarification from him before making such sweeping statements and claims.
On Thursday TEF issued a terse statement accusing the ministry’s top brass of unbecoming behaviour for snubbing their Morogoro meeting, threatening to take up the matter with President Kikwete at the appropriate time. The meeting, which was hosted by MCT, brought together managing editors and other senior media professionals to discuss issues pertaining to the media industry.