Friday, October 4, 2013

EU Disappointed over newspapers banning

The European Union delegation in the country has been concerned by the recent decision by the Tanzanian authorities to temporarily suspend the Mwananchi and Mtanzania tabloid newspapers and about the related restrictions on publication of news on their websites respectively.  In view of this, the Delegation of the European Union therefore has called upon the government’s authorities to make every effort to preserve the freedom of expression and promote the right to information in the country. A joint statement issued in Dar es Salaam yesterday in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission in Tanzania said that, the EU countries have taken a note on reaction to these decisions as announced by civil society and media organizations. According to the statement, press freedom and freedom of expression are fundamental rights of the people which call for circumspection and proportionality in the application of the laws that govern the media.  The statement is quoted as saying that, “it is the duty of the media to work within the law and to make every effort to adopt and adhere to professional standards”, adding that,  a modern Right to Information Act and updated media legislation would contribute to a more open and conducive environment for the press.  It is recalled that in October 2010 the EU's independent Election Observation Mission recommended to expedite the modernization of the media laws, taking into account stakeholders' views. It also recommended a better defined mechanism to resolve conflicts and complaints. The partnership between the European Union and Tanzania is underpinned by a joint commitment to fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression and information. The press has a key role to play in informing society and in promoting values and rights. The role of the press is also important to continue deepening the democratization process, reads part of the statement.  It further quoted that, a responsible press plays a key role in this regard and the Delegation of the European Union urges all stakeholders to prioritize constructive dialogue as the primary means to resolve differences.   

Kigoma North MP (CHADEMA) Kabwe Zuberi Zitto

 In another development Kigoma North MP Kabwe Zuberi Zitto has officially submitted his private Member’ Bill to Clerk of the National Assembly that seeks to repeal the Newspaper Act, 1976. According to Zitto, the challenge at the moment is all about the media laws after the current laws was repealed, however, he said that, information stakeholders such as the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) have been working on this issue for long time without success. “I am informed that, the new information bill is already on the table, and that in the process of discussing the issue of the repeal of the Newspaper Act of 1976, some changes might be amended so as to amend the new law” he said. Zitto is on the view of the fact that, in the first step there is a need of repealing the existing law which has been pressing the freedom of expression whose debate has taken long time without conclusion. He said that, he has decided to take a normal way to present the bill and avoid a long procedure so as to pave the way for the information stakeholders to participate effectively in the currently constitutional review process. In view of this however, he said that, he has presented the bill so that is it printed in government gazette as per in accordance to the Parliamentary procedures and rules so that it might be read for the first time and then it should be passed over to the stakeholders for discussion for its review and then later on to be read in Parliament.

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