Tanzania media practitioners demand more press freedom

By Hassan Abbas, Dar es Salaam – Tanzanian media practitioners yesterday (Thursday) submitted their opinions to the Constitutional Review Commission demanding more protection of press freedom in the country.

The Commission has started this week to collect views from special groups after finishing a similar process for other common people in various areas in the East African country.

Speaking before the Commission on behalf of media actors, the chairman of the Media Owners Association (MOAT), Dr. Reginald Mengi said the new constitution should guarantee freedom of the press and right to access information.

He submitted that the constitution should prohibit torture and oppression of the press including repealing the notorious Newspapers Act of 1976. Mr. Mengi also submitted his opinion on a number of other issues including the need for the constitution to enact a special court to prosecute corrupt officials.

On its part, the Editors Forum represented by the Managing Editor of a Kiswahili weekly Jamhuri (Republic) newspaper, Mr. Deodatus Balile advised for the formation of a National Media Commission which shall be a regulatory body for the press and advising the government on how best to reduce obstacles to press freedom.

Addressing the press later on, the Secretary General of the Forum, Mr. Neville Meena insisted that the new constitution should protect Editors from prosecution.

However, the submission raised debates in the countries social media platforms with some contributors wondering how can the new constitution balance between the freedom of the press and individual freedoms on privacy and protection against reputational harm.

“The new constitution looks like new platforms for various groups to demand protection of their personal interests. I bet it is going to be a tough work for the Commission to harmonize the diverse views,” said a commentator in a debate in facebook platform on the various issues related to the constitution review.