Mixed reaction following MCT plea to journos

24Jul 2020
Henry Mwangonde
The Guardian
Mixed reaction following MCT plea to journos

Council of Tanzania (MCT) to all journalists seeking nomination by political parties to vie for various posts in the General Election later this year to resign has triggered heated, debate with some respondents supporting the body and others disagreeing.

Neville Meena.

A cross-section of long-serving journalists yesterday expressed different views over the matter, making it a contentious issue whose debate is likely to continue.

In its advisory released on Wednesday, MCT argued that journalists who have openly shown their political alignment cannot go back to the newsrooms and earn public trust.

But one of the senior journalists, Pascal Mayala who sought to be nominated by CCM for Kawe constituency in Dar es Salaam argued that scribes who did so did not err and can continue practicing journalism as long as they observe professionalism.

“There is nothing wrong if a journalist comes back to the newsroom and discharges his or her duties with objectivity, fairness and balanced reportage,” said the aspirant who polled one vote in the primaries.

In their comments, some were of the view that the decision on whether to return to newsrooms after vying for a political post should be left to individual journalists while others said media personnel should declare interests.

A senior Editor and Secretary General of the Tanzania Editors Forum Neville Meena said the journalists who have shown interest in some political parties should be left to individuals to judge themselves.

He said this is the right time for media institutions to come together and come up with friendly restrictions which will guide journalists during such times.

“We should not restrain from vying because they have the right to do so, in my view if a journalist decide to vie for a political post, this should be left to him or her to decide because in the end the burden of a tarnished credibility goes to the journalist himself and the recipient media house,” he said.

Vice chairman for the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Tanzania James Marenga said it is very difficult for journalist to be impartial when they have shown interest with certain political parties.

“This is a bit tricky because journalists are required to be neutral when reporting, if a journalist has shown interest in a certain political party and went further to seek nomination that is a sign that he or she is a member,” he said.

Marenga further added that journalists who want to join politics must declare interests because they have the right to do so.

Another long-serving journalist Pili Mtambalike said this is high time media houses formulated policies that are clear on such matters.

She said objectivity and partiality was a key issue that differentiated journalism from others professionals saying when objectivity is compromised the journalist loses credibility.

MCT said that journalists as part of the community have the right be elected to different positions as well as the right to vote adding ‘Those who took nomination forms to vie for various posts exercised their right to stand for election, but they no longer qualify to continue working as journalists.”

The council called upon media owners to provide guidance on the matter so that those who choose to do politics leave newsrooms.

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