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TEF: Enshrine freedom of media in constitution

21st December 2012
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Neville Meena

The Tanzania Editors’ Forum (TEF) has said the new constitution should slot in a special section that provides for freedom of the media and the right to information by all people without restrictions.

Briefing journalists on resolutions of the TEF meeting held in Tanga from December 13 to 16, the forum’s Executive Secretary Neville Meena said the forum also wants the government to enact a law on media services, a recommendation already approved by media stakeholders.

Themed ‘New Constitution and Press Freedom’, the meeting discussed a number of issues relating to the profession, including the situation of press freedom in the country.
Meena said editors went through the current Union Constitution, and established that there was no mention of freedom of the media.

Already TEF has formed a team of three editors led by Deogratius Balile to present the matter to the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) chairman. 

Meanwhile editors plan to meet next month during which they would discuss the implementation of the media services bill.
TEF’s chairman, Absolum Kibanda said already the forum has been informed of efforts made by the government in endorsing the media services bill and that it is expected to be tabled in the next parliamentary session by the Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister, Mathias Chikawe.

The chairman said the bill most likely failed to mature since 2001, because of placing it under the Ministry of Information, Youth and Culture instead of that of Justice and Constitutional Affairs which is responsible for the docket.

“So we will also be waiting for the next parliamentary session to discuss, among other things, the media services bill…. We would prefer to use our key partners, the Media Council of Tanzania, Media Institute for Southern Africa-Tanzania Chapter (MISA-TAN) to press the government to act on our concern,” he said.

In another development, TEF has appealed to the country’s institutions of journalism to ensure they comply with the teaching curriculum that has been jointly developed by the MCT and the National Council for Technical Education (NACTE) in a bid to enhance the profession.

It set June 2013 as the deadline for implementation of the directive so as to give the forum time to effectively evaluate the exercise.

Reading the directive in Dar es Salaam, TEF executive secretary said institutions which failed to comply would be barred from sending students to any media house for field attachments.
It was further agreed that, editors should be responsible for mentoring junior reporters so they could become competent professionals.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN