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ayubconstitutionA clause in article 30 of the proposed draft constitution which provides for freedom of expression

and the right to information has been roundly criticized as an impediment to the very rights it is supposed to facilitate.

Media practitioners, trainers and stakeholders  in a Dar es Salaam singled out clause 4 of the article which subjects it’s utilization to a legislation to be enacted with the objective of protecting national security, peace , national values, rights, privacy and the freedom of  other people as a claw-back clause.

Deliberating on the proposed draft constitution in a meeting organized by the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) which is designated as the Constitutional Council for the Media on July 5, 2013,some of participants suggested the clause should either be removed altogether or amended by improving the wording to be positive.

Speaking during the meeting which was held at the Blue Pearl Hotel, the Executive Secretary of MCT, KajubiMukajanga, appealed to the participants to come out with constructive views which would impress the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) to accommodate more rights for the media in the new constitution.

Mukajanga said it was very encouraging that the Commission had accommodated most of the proposals made by the media fraternity.

However the Commission, according to  MCT’s  Regulation and Standards Manager, Pili Mtambalike,  did not take on  board a number of pertinent  proposals  by the media  including the  establishment of public  service media as opposed to government media outlets which serve the interests of  those  holding positions in government.

The public service media would serve the interest of the public.

Mtambalike said other proposals which  the CRC did not  accommodate  in the first draft constitution were the  establishment of  an independent  media council   which will steer media to observe  professional code of ethics and the  Media Commission which will  oversee the implementation of the right to  information.

Other issues which were deemed as important for the constitutional to explicitly provide for editorial independence and that right to in formation clause should be split – with one specifically on media and another on individuals.

Apart from matters relating to media, the participants also dwelt on other issues on the proposed constitution such as the structure of the union – the Tanzania Mainland or Tanganyika and Zanzibar governments.

Some participants were of the view that the draft constitution bestowed so many powers on the president of the Union Government and suggested that they should be clipped.

Touching on the president, the Executive Secretary of MCT, Mukajanga urged the participants to be careful on the question of the powers of the president.

He was of the view that the presidency was an institution that should be strong.

He wondered where the question of parliamentary supremacy coming from. Why should parliament be supreme than the executive?

“We know the type of Members of Parliament we have.Are these the type of people we should entrust with our destinies?” Mukajanga  asked.

He cited a recent development in neighboring Kenya where members of Parliament who had decided to raise their salaries simply black-mailed the country’s president to approve the increase which he had  initially rejected.

“If you have a weak presidency and president, such MPs will always have things their way”, he warned.

On the question of the size and set-up of the government in the proposed three tier Union, Mukajanga dismissed the question of cost in running the bloated arrangement pointing out that democracy is always expensive.

The meeting of the media council on constitution is the second and was chaired by the MCT Ethics and Arbitration, Allan Lawa. The first meeting was held in Zanzibar on July 3, 2013.

Four other zonal meetings will be held this month in–Coast, Central, Lake Zone and Southern Highlands. A final national meeting will be held in Dar es Salaam early next month.

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