Media stakeholders are urging the government to heed advice issued by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) when it recently called on the government to scrap out the Newspaper Act of 1976 on account that it suppresses freedom of media and kills democracy.
“ The said law gives too much power to an individual (Minister) to, based on their own opinion, decide on the so called ‘public interest’ to act as a ‘Chief Editor’ over all media products while allowing them to be complainant, prosecutor and judge. This is against the rules of natural justice and the rule of fair laws,” reads part of the LHRC report.
The media stakeholders are pushing for the government to adhere and scrap out the said law noting that it has occasioned the banning of various media outlets in the country including newspapers and radios and even a recent suggestion to ban social media who have been cautioned to observe the profession’s ethics and codes.
Speaking on behalf of other stakeholders, Kajubi Mukajanga Secretary General for the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) made the assertion to that effect via a televised live programme noting the following.
“The media is a mouthpiece for the public…banning its outlets is equal to denying the public their constitutional right to information,”
He urged on the need for the public to utilize the MCT saying the organisation was established to reconcile and mediate between journalists or media institutions on the one hand, and members of the general public and other institutions on the other.
“…let anyone with grievances report to the MCT or even the court if they are not happy...” urged Ndimara Tegambwage, a veteran journalist in the country who seconded the view that banning media outlets does no good to the public,
Tanzania’s Newspaper Act of 1976 is said to infringe the freedom of the press and the LHRC stresses that it finds the Act and associated laws are outdated and in need review to serve the best interest of Tanzanians’ basic rights and fundamental freedoms.