The right to be in­formed has lim­i­ta­tions

The African - - SPECIAL REPORT - BY KHALID MTWANGI

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Tanzania

© PressReader. All rights reserved.