to investigate last weekend’s widely-condemned armed invasion of a prominent local media house by Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Paul Makonda.
Clouds Media Group (CMG) has confirmed that RC Makonda raided the radio and television station’s Mikocheni-based studios in the company of people carrying firearms and dressed in police or military fatigues, in an apparent attempt to force the staff to air unethical TV content.
Nnauye, on a visit to the station on Monday, then named the five-strong committee to probe the incident and deliver its report to him within 24 hours. But as of late yesterday, there was nothing forthcoming, as the minister himself called on the public in a twitter message to be patient and allow the committee to complete its work.
The probe team is led by the director of the Tanzania Information Services (MAELEZO), Dr Hassan Abbas.
Meanwhile, the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) and Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) yesterday issued official statements condemning the incident as a criminal offence, an act of hooliganism, and a disgrace not to be tolerated in a civilized society.
LHRC executive director Helen Kijo-Bisimba told a press conference in Dar es Salaam that Makonda’s act should be denounced by any Tanzanian who believes in the rule of law and abhors attempts to threaten or suppress freedom of the press.
“When media houses are invaded by individuals to force the publication of information that they want for their personal interests, it is a total violation of the law… especially when it involves someone who is responsible for administering it,” Kijo-Bisimba said.
She called on the government to take serious disciplinary action against Makonda, saying what he did should not be condoned at all. She also told government leaders to stop misusing security organs for their personal ends, as appears to have been the case with Makonda.
“Any concerned citizen must wake up and take this as a serious issue because we are heading to a very serious situation where someone can just wake up and invade the media or do whatever he likes,” she said.
Kijo-Bisimba’s message was strongly echoed by newly-elected TLS president Tundu Lissu, who also called on the appointing authority to take measures against RC Makonda.
“(TLS) believes that the action has irreparably tarnished the image of our country as a democratic state where press freedom is respected and protected by law,” Lissu said in his statement.
A video clip apparently taken from CCTV security cameras shows Makonda and the armed men in uniform entering the CMG studios late at night. The video footage went viral on social media, sparking a huge public outcry.
The station’s management later said the raid was the RC’s response to the station’s failure to broadcast a certain controversial video clip that Makonda wanted aired as it was but which the station management felt required proper balancing with comments from all parties involved.