Nnauye condemns Makonda media house raid, forms probe committee

21Mar 2017
Getrude Mbago
The Guardian
Nnauye condemns Makonda media house raid, forms probe committee

The Minister of Information, Culture and Sport, Nape Nnauye, yesterday added his voice to a growing wave of public concern over last weekend’s invasion by Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Paul Makonda of a prominent local media house, complete with armed police.

Media Owners Association (MOAT) chairman Dr Reginald Mengi (L), Information, Culture, Arts and Sports minister Nape Nnauye (C) and Clouds Media Group managing director Joseph Kusaga exchange views shortly after talks at the CMG offices in Dar es Salaam yesterday in connection with Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda’s storming into the media house’s studios on Friday night accompanied by armed police officers.

Speaking on a visit to the offices of the traumatised Clouds Media Group (CMG) in the city, Nnauye condemned what happened and said it was like the country was going through a coup d’état.

“It is not normal to witness such incidents in a peaceful and democratic country like ours,” the minister told a press briefing.

He also announced a team of five people to investigate what actually transpired and submit a report to his desk within 24 hours.

The team will be led by the Director of Information Services, Dr Hassan Abbas, and also includes The Guardian Limited executive editor Jesse Kwayu, Tanzania Editors Forum (TEF) deputy chairman Deodatus Balile, Wapo Radio news editor Mengida Johaness, and Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) representative Mabel Masasi.

“They will interrogate the RC and his people to find out what led them to take such a drastic step…what was their purpose. Their report will be taken up by the ministry for further action,” Nnauye said.

Earlier yesterday, Clouds Media Group confirmed that RC Makonda - accompanied by a group of armed and uniformed policemen - on Friday night forced his way into the radio and television station’s Mikocheni offices and tried to force the broadcast of a video clip that the station had refused to air for ethical reasons.

According to CMG director of programming Rugemalila Mutahaba, Makonda had overstepped the boundaries of his longstanding “friendship” with him (Mutahaba) personally, and had shown no respect to the station or the media fraternity as a whole.

“Having a position of (political) leadership does not warrant anyone to trample upon other people,” Mutahaba said.

He said the late-night raid had caused tension and fear among the station staffers, some of whom experienced high blood pressure problems in the aftermath.

Media Owners Association of Tanzania (MOAT) chairman Dr Reginald Mengi, who accompanied minister Nnauye on his visit to the CMG offices, described the incident as a threat to media freedom in the country.

“What happened is shocking… nothing like this has ever happened in our country since independence,” Mengi remarked.

The MOAT chairman called on the government to take stern measures against everyone implicated in the dangerous action, saying it appeared designed to instill fear in the media industry.

“We want to know what measures will be taken so that we can be sure of our security,” he said, while urging journalists to continue fulfilling their daily duties without fear despite the RC’s action.

A video clip apparently taken from CCTV security cameras shows RC Makonda and the armed policemen entering the CMG studios late at night. The video footage has since gone viral on social media.

Meanwhile, CMG executive director Joseph Kusaga called on the RC to apologise for his action, saying: “No human being is perfect…everyone has his or her weaknesses. If he comes to us and apologises, we will forgive him.”

But in another development, President Magufuli later in the day told Makonda at a public rally to ignore his detractors and continue with his work as RC.

Speaking at the formal launch of the Ubungo interchange project in the city, Magufuli rebuked Tanzanians for indulging in cheap talk about “personalities” instead of discussing real issues.

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