Tanzania: Mwinyi Calls for Responsible Journalism

ZANZIBAR President Hussein Mwinyi on Monday reaffirmed the government commitment to work closely with journalists, challenging them to embrace analytical journalism to spearhead the country's economic and social development.

President Mwinyi, speaking at a half-day forum on the role of the information sector in building the new Zanzibar here, implored journalists to use their pens properly to promote peace, unity, national reconciliation and development.

"We as well value you as our key partners in the fight against corruption, embezzlement and cruelty against women and children," the president told media owners, editors and journalists who gathered in Sheikh Idris Abdulwakil hall.

He reminded journalists to read widely and write authoritatively by analysing key issues of public interest.

"Journalism is a noble profession...it's not for everybody-refrain from 'as usual' syndrome in your job," President Mwinyi counseled.

Under the current technological advancements, Dr Mwinyi argued, the only way for professional journalists to justify their relevance is through writing well researched analysis pieces.

"You can leave event reporting to ordinary citizens as long as they possess smartphones," he said.

President Mwinyi said the government is duty bound to create conducive environment for journalists, insisting that the right of citizens to get information will be observed as prescribed in the country's constitution.

He expressed his support to legal reforms, saying: "It's of critical importance for the country to have strong and good media law for the speedy social and economic development of Zanzibar."

President Mwinyi ordered all heads of communication departments and their respective chief executive officers (CEOs) in the public sector to devise communication strategies to enhance information dissemination to the public.

He warned against uncooperative officers in the government, saying release of information for public consumption is no longer an option.

Presenting stakeholders' proposals against the 2006 Media Bill, Mr Suleiman Seif decried excessive but unlimited powers that the proposed legislation has bestowed on the Director of Information Services-Maelezo.

He further demanded the introduction of insurance cover to legally compel all media owners to provide life insurance policies to their employees who work under risky environments.

Mr Seif ridiculed the demand for the media houses to guarantee freelance journalists seeking Maelezo administered press cards.

Senior officer with the Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Dr Saleh Yusuf Mnemo underscored the importance of active communication officers in the government, saying the majority of them were underperforming due to an unsupportive environment.

Lack of national and institutional communication policies; ineffective working tools; non-involvement and budgetary constraints were among the problems impeding the performance of communication specialists in the public sector.

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