THE government is planning to amend the Media Services Act (MSA) of the year 2016, as part of its efforts to uphold welfare of journalists and the media industry at large.
This was said in Mwanza on Wednesday by the Minister for Information, Communication and Information Technology Nape Nnauye in an event to pay last respects to the five journalists, who died on Tuesday in a car accident.
He said, since President Samia Suluhu Hassan has issued a go-ahead for the amendment of the Act, and the ministry is looking forward to act accordingly.
"The aim is to provide a conducive working environment for journalists, through which their freedom and rights will be promoted and protected," he added.
Moreover, he said the government is probing sources of traffic accidents causing deaths and injuries to journalists during motorcades of different leaders, while on official tours.
"We have requested reports of all accidents that involve journalists when they are in motorcades accompanying government leaders to their fieldworks, there are a lot of rumors and speculations, but we have to prove first before coming up with the best solution that will minimize or end chances of the accidents," he said.
The minister assured that upon receiving the report the government will work on it accordingly and take measures that will minimize or end the accidents that claim the lives of journalists while at work. He also spoke on the welfare of journalists, instructing the employers to ensure timely payment of their staff.
Elaborating, the minister issued a-seven-day ultimatum for employers of journalists, who were killed in horrific road accidents, to pay all the salary arrears. He said, upon payment, the receipts should be handed over to the office of the Mwanza Regional Commissioner and that those who fail to do so will face legal actions.
His directives came after he was briefed by the Director for Union of Press Clubs (UTPC), MrAbubakar Khassan that all former journalists had salary arrears to be paid by their employers.
"Employers must issue the arrears within the given time frame and thereafter, report to Regional Commissioner (RC). If they (employers) are going through hardships, we will talk to set things right for these journalists, but not for those who have passed on," stressed the Minister.
Earlier, the UPTC Director said that journalists have been working in difficult environments, with their employers deliberately refusing to make the payments.
"But we regularly meet these employers in bars and hotels, asking ourselves where they get the money for recreation but not paying salaries of the journalists. I can assure that the last payment for some journalists was over eight months back," he said.
The accident occurred at around 6:25 am on Tuesday, when the Mwanza Regional Commissioner Robert Gabriel was on his way to Ukerewe District for development projects' inspections, instead claimed the lives of six people from his motorcade.
The journalists who died have been identified as Abel Ngapenda (an Information Officer at the Mwanza Regional Secretariat), Steven Msengi (an Information Officer in Ukerewe District) Ms Johari Shani (Uhuru Media Group), Ms Husna Mlanzi (ITV), Anthony Chuwa (Daily News Digital) and Driver of the vehicle.
At-least 14 people have been confirmed dead on the spot and two journalists, namely Tunu Herman (freelancer) and Vanny Charles for Icon online TV were admitted to Bugando Zonal Hospital after experiencing serious injuries.