5 February 2013

Tanzania: 'Provide Correct Information to People'

Dodoma — THE government has instructed all its departments, agencies, regions and districts to incorporate Informational Officers as part of the management team so that they can prepare and release authoritative, timely and reliable information to the public.

Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Dr Fennella Mukangara made the call when opening the government Information Officers' annual meeting, noting that sidelining them was one of the factors causing delay of government information to the public.

She said the officers being a link between the government and the public and other stakeholders must always be equipped to be able to release information and confront any distortion from the fast-growing social media.

"People should get the right information that must be well coordinated and analyzed and Information Officers can be able to channel them only if they effectively take part in finding them," she said.

The minister said while the country faces massive growth of social media mostly releasing poorly researched news to their consumers, the government must immediately give out the correct versions to avoid confusing the audience.

She also urged the management to make sure their Information Officers attend management meetings and be part of daily functions of their institutions. She urged all Permanent Secretaries in the ministries to set up budgets for Information officers and Spokespersons to own modern equipment to be able to furnish information without delay.

Dr Mukangara wondered why people should receive distorted information to the point of disrupting peace while information organs with the government circles remain mum as if nothing had happened.

"We had a problem in Mtwara which forced the Prime Minister to camp there but very few leaders in the region bothered to cool down the people's tempers. Even after the PM had resolved the matter, we still don't read enough follow up stories on the ended saga," she said.

She insisted on coordinated flow of information on sensitive matters like investments that are touching the public welfare. She challenged all ministries to pass their information to the Information Services for effective circulation.

Making his contribution, the Director of the Information Services (MAELEZO), Mr Assah Mwambene, said the culture of issuing press releases or statements should end. Instead, information officers should up-date their blogs and start using social media as well.

"Changes should start with you. You should face the rapid advancement in media technology. Spend more time in visiting social media and release two way traffic information," he said.

In her remarks, Senior Editor with the government owned paper, the 'Daily News', Ms Ichikael Maro, said government institutions should no longer depend on press statements in releasing information and expect meaningful coverage. Tanzania Standard Newspapers (TSN Ltd) is one of the sponsors of the event that attracted more than 150 Information Officers across the Tanzania Mainland.

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