Two newspapers – Mtanzania and Rai published by the New Habari Corporation – have been censured by the Ethics Committee of the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) for publishing
negative reports against a former Prime Minister and a former minister.
Mtanzania- a daily was ordered to apologise to former Prime Minister, Frederick Sumaye within seven days for portraying him in bad light on its editorial published on 20 October, 2010.
Rai – a weekly, was ordered to apologise to former minister, Muhammad Seif Khatibu for publishing a negative article against him on its May 5- 11, 2011 issue.
Speaking during the hearing by the MCT’s Ethics Committee at the Council’s boardroom today (September 7, 2011), Sumaye claimed the editorial had tarnished his image.
He told the committee presided by its chairperson, Justice Thomas Mihayo, that the editorial which questioned his integrity has severely damaged his public standing.
The editorial was malicious and there was not an iota of truth in its disparaging allegations, he said.
The ombudsman of the New Habari Corporation, Balinagwe Mwambungu told the Ethics Committee that the newspaper was ready to apologise as it had no evidence and could not justify the allegations published against Sumaye, who served as prime minister for 10 years in the second phase government.
He simply said that it had transpired at the newspaper that during election time, the editors and journalists were divided favouring different political camps, groups and personalities.
He said it was during this time that Sumaye was portrayed negatively in the editorial and that the editor who was responsible was no longer working for the company.
The chairperson of the Ethics Committee, Justice Mihayo warned editors and journalists not capitalize on election politics to mudsling people.
Justice Mihayo also warned journalists that they will be taken personally responsible if it is established that they intentionally and maliciously malign people.
Apart running a front page apology in Mtanzania, the New Habari corporation has also been ordered to ensure the apology is also published in its two other publications – one in English.
As for the case of former Minister Muhammad Khatibu, Rai newspaper was ordered to apologise within 14 days of the ruling by the ethics Committee.
In the case of Rai, Mwambungu also made passionate appeal to the Committee for apology.
He said as was the case with Mtanzania, there was no justification for running such a negative article against Khatibu.
Khatibu had served as minister for over twenty years in different phases of government.
Other members of the Ethics Committee which ruled on the two cases are Rose Haji, Usu Mallya, Rafii Haji Makame and Kenneth Simbaya.