Tanzania - Mwakyembe Tells Media Outlets to Go to Court

Dodoma — Media outlets, whose license get suspended or revoked after breaching of laws, as well as people defamed by content providers should go to court and not otherwise, a cabinet minister opined in Parliament.

This was said by the Information, Culture, Arts and Sports minister Harrison Mwakyembe, today April 23, while responding to some issues raised by a section of lawmakers during the approval of the 2019/20 budget proposal of Sh30.8 billion.

He wondered why some people who faulted the government for infringement of freedom of expression were using improper channels like High Commissions, to convey their grievances.

He said High Commissions have been seeking for his audience to discuss about the claims, with the government's answer being: "have you read the laws?"

"Where do I get power to suspend the newspaper? I too ask honorable Devota Minja what law states that if you are not satisfied with Information Services Department director's decision, you should alternatively report the matter to the High Commission?," asked Dr Mwakyembe.

Ms Minja cried foul on how the Information Services Department was treating media.

"Instead of directing what media to do, the Information Services Department has turned to be a threat to them, this is unacceptable," she lamented.

Responding, minister Mwakyembe said the government was only acting accordingly upon a satisfaction that media houses have misbehaved, a decision which comes after a warning as per Media Service Act, 2016 Section 59.

"If not taking measures, what did you expect the government to do in response to disrespectful by the media outlets?" he asked.

"The law is clear. If the accused is not satisfied with the decision, the doors of courts are open for appeal."

He said MPs were not employees of the media, and so it was hard for them to establish whether or not steps were taken against media violating the code of ethics.

This was in reaction to Konde MP Khatibu Haji (CUF), who faulted the government for remaining mum over some media outlets, which were operating without even adhering to code of ethics.

"Media, which deal with serious issues tend to be punished, whereas those which defame people, including remain untouched," lamented Mr Haji.

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