The right to be informed has limitations
Under any circumstances that the people of any country have the right to be informed, to receive news is now accepted as a God given right. There will always be bevy of zealots in journalistic fraternity, and elsewhere, who believe that there should not be any second thought in the dissemination of happenings that make news. That there can be some impediments arising out of, for example, the security of the country would simply not wash with them.
So long as these are events let the people be informed fully. Sometimes they would insist on that even when the consequences may be inimical to the interests of, or may pose a danger to the country. It would be correct to assert that there are many in the journalistic fraternity who believe in this doctrine wholly without reservation.
Now there is this question of live radio and television broadcasts to the world of what is going on in the Parliament. This could be regarded as a stark proof of that doctrine. More than anyone else the journalistic fraternity is up in arms why there are now no live broadcasts of the goings on in the Parliament.
The little that is broadcast now, that is the question time is awfully inadequate according them. They are craving for the return of live broadcasts of everything that goes on in the Parliament. More especially when members talk or debate about matters of substance such as the budget as is happening now.
It is significant that such long sessions take place during the morning sessions. The bone of contention here arises when one realises that they coincide with the working hours for the majority—a large majority—of the people are at work. That should include farmers pout there in the country.
In other words at what should be the most productive time of the day; and, by thunder, this country would certainly wish to see the people work flat out, in fact overwork themselves to catch up with the rest of the world.
Would that be possible when they also sit around some contraption that allows them to listen to, or even view the antics of one honourable Mbunge doing his or her thing, that invariably would including some vexing irrelevancies.
It must be admitted though task at hand, were observed paying attention to the haranguing that invariably went on the Parliament.
They were paying attention to the task at hand that should be accomplished to the satisfaction of everyone including themselves. They took pride in what they were doing for themselves and for the country.
It would be worth repeating that no one would be bothered to listen to any Honourable Member of Parliament trying to prove something to his electorate or anyone else for that matter. The poor worker would be concentrating at the task at hand lest he won for himself a stricture from the supervisor.
He would not want that to happen. Unfortunately, the clamour for live broadcasts from the Bunge, though it is mostly from the media fraternity, would indicate that kind of discipline at work place was a colonial hangover. Should it be resurrected now it would be an anachronism in today’s Tanzania.
There is the question of the cost of the service at the core and on the periphery. One does not have to be a cost accountant to conceptualise but really feel that here there would be some shillings being pent yet no tangible benefits to the people accrue from the exercise.
As has been pointed out already the broadcasts, first are beamed at the wrong time, when people are supposed, indeed expected, to be hard at work with all the concentration being directed at producing results that are meant to propel the country forward.
Yet here we are, some people, more especially those in the business of dissemination of news, shout themselves horse lambasting the people’s government for trying to get them concentrate more at what they are supposed to be doing to propel Tanzania forward. That is incomprehensible even when those noble principles of disseminating news and free speech are placed at the apex of everything else.
The media class would want the people to live to accept those principles as be all end all. It must be admitted by all that the question of free speech and the freedom to publish news is cardinal to the modern day political nation state.
Only that the fraternity must accept as well that there are other principles such as the security of the state and personal affairs that transcend the cult of free speech and all that is attached to what is really an emotional gratification by not a few of those in the media.
This is not meant to place Bunge live broadcasts in the category of freedom of expression, but only that it may be accepted in order that the people are informed of the proceedings in which case they may not necessarily be live broadcasts.
It is fully understandable that the decision to eliminate live broadcasts of the Bunge proceedings did arouse the wrath of the opposition parties, more particularly those that have some from their ranks as Honourable Members of Parliament. They will have been presented with a platform from which to lambast the Government, unreasonably
Members of Parliament in session at Dodoma.