PRESIDENT Ali Mohamed Shein has called upon journalists to exercise professionalism in their line of duty by being neutral, ethical and observe the country's laws to enhance existing press freedom in both Zanzibar and mainland."
You should be guided by our constitutions (Union and Zanzibar) and ensure you use standard and acceptable language, while reporting and when criticising," Dr Shein said at the opening of the Union of Tanzania Press Clubs (UTPC) annual general meeting yesterday.
He said both the Union and Isles governments have had good relations with journalists and media organisations, including UTPC, as they worked and operated freely in the country, but some journalists would mock, degrade, exaggerate too much and unjustifiably interfere in other people's privacy and even neglect development efforts made by the governments.
"Our relations should be based on 'give-and-take'. We love journalists and the media by giving you enough support; you should also do the same by practising responsible journalism.
Be patriotic and respect what the governments are doing," Dr Shein said. At the gathering, also attended by Second Vice- President Seif Ali Iddi, Deputy Speaker of the House Mgeni Hassan Juma and a considerable number of government executives, Dr Shein said the room to criticise existed, but while criticising humble and respective language should be applied.
The Isles leader said the use of mainly Kiswahili, the national language, remained a concern because some journalists/media did not bother to use/write standard Kiswahili for consumers.
"There is a saying for fun now that Kiswahili is properly written/made in Kenya, used/spoken well in Uganda and spoiled in Tanzania!" I still appeal, President Shein said, to journalists and Kiswahili councils (Bakiza, Bakita) in the country "to bring our language back on track, if not other countries in Africa and beyond will take the lead and become better Kiswahili speakers than us," he appealed.
President Shein also asked journalists to specialise and have better command when reporting or writing on an issue.
"You have to change the way you practise your work. Avoid 'business as usual' by conducting research on issues before you publish."
In response to UTPC President Deogratius Nsokolo's call on both governments to continue supporting press clubs in the country, Dr Shein agreed to further support the development of press clubs, particularly those operating in Zanzibar, as executives in the government still denied journalists information.
Dr Shein said, "It is really surprising that ministers, permanent secretaries and other executives do not want to provide information to journalists. Why hesitate?
There is a lot to provide to feed the media, it is high time you changed." Mr Nsokolo also asked the governments to review the current media services law and the cybercrime law, arguing that the laws contained clauses that still did not give enough space for media freedom in the country.
Swedish Ambassador to Tanzania Anders Sjoberg was among the speakers at the UTPC meeting held at the Sheikh Idris Abdulwakil Hall in the Stone Town.
He informed the participants that his country remained committed to supporting the development of media and democracy in the country.
UTPC Executive Director Abubakar Karsan thanked President Shein for gracing the clubs meeting, saying it was the first time ever to be held, promising that members of the club would consider the advice/directives contained in the President's speech.