Local media under fire for reporting trivialities on ongoing political campaigns

By Elias Mhegera and Timothy Kitundu – TANZANIAN journalists have come under strong criticism due to poor coverage of the ongoing political campaigns. This came during the review of coverage on Parliament and politics.

The review followed a training that was provided to journalists by the Tanzania Media Fund under the tutelage of the Media Institute of South Africa (MISA-Tan).

Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, of the Civic United Front (CUF).

A renowned media trainer and consultant Lawrence Kilimwiko dejected the tendency whereby the incumbent presidential, parliamentary and council candidates are giving numerous promises in order to win voter’s confidence and their votes.

Kilimwiko revealed this in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday this week, expounding that what the outgoing candidates should do is to tell voters what they have done in the past five years.

“Both presidential candidates and parliamentary or councilors should tell the people what they have done in order to be considered by voters in the context of their contribution as stipulated in the pillars of representative democracy,” he argued.

Jakaya Kikwete for the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM)

He cited the example of numerous promises made by the CCM presidential candidate Jakaya Kikwete of buying a modern ship to replace the noxious MV Bukoba at a huge rally in Bukoba town in order to ease the transport woes that plague Lake Victoria, especially between Kagera, and Mwanza regions.

Record shows that former President Benjamin Mkapa had promised a few months after the accident that the government would replace the ship; he repeated the same promise in 2000, during his re-election campaign bid. But until he said goodbye to the Magogoni State House, neither a modern ship nor a ferry had been bought to replace the ill-fated MV Bukoba.

According to Kilimwiko, additional promises made by Kikwete of building an international airport at Kigoma, and buying a new ship to ply in Lake Tanganyika and turning Kigoma the ‘Dubai of Africa’  as mere political gimmick.

Meanwhile another veteran journalist and media consultant Ndimara Tegambwage has called for journalists to shun away from trivial issues and deal with serious pertinent issues.

Ndimara said that throughout the ongoing campaigns a good number of media outlets have been feeding media consumers what is not necessary for their development.

Dr Willibrod Slaa,opposition Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA)

He narrated the long list of trivial issues like the matrimonial affairs of Dr Willibrod Slaa, presidential candidate from the opposition CHADEMA, and the fact that Sheik Yahya Hussein had said that he will use his ‘magical powers’ to ‘protect’ the incumbent Presdient Jakaya Kikwete from his political enemies.

“Of course Sheikh Yahya had his democratic right to say whatever  he said, but do the Tanzanians really want to hear that, should such kind of stories consume much of their time, does the marriage of Dr Slaa overwhelm other pertinent issues?” asked the media expert in astonishment.

He asked journalists to carry agenda that will stimulate Tanzanians to listen and read more on policy issues before they finally vote for a proper candidate come the Election Day.

Ndimara said that media personnel should get to understand what really Tanzanians want, and whom do they think should help to resolve such problems, he pleaded journalists to ask the citizenry questions that make sense.

The media expert said that reporters should have the ability to manage information properly by collecting much as possible, to compare and contrast and then make good conclusion of what should appear to the public before it goes for the public consumption.

He concurred with Kilimwiko’s stance that the incumbent president should not make a series of new promises while Tanzanians knows that he failed to fulfill much of what he had promised in the 2005 general election.