How can the media in Tanzania be meaningfully transformed to promote accountability?


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In my humble opinion, I believe that if Tanzanian journalists, or journalists anywhere, for that matter, do the things that I have mentioned above, which are contained in a codebook written and produced by Tanzanians, then they will definitely transform the Tanzanian media.

What I have said above raises other questions that will help us transform our media. To transform and promote accountability, journalists too have to be accountable.

  • Who are Tanzanian journalists accountable to?
  • Are they accountable to their readers, to themselves, to advertisers, or to their owners?
  • Do they know who their readers are?
  • Do they know what their readers want?
  • Do they know the pressing issues that their readers face every day?

I cannot answer any of these questions because I am not Tanzanian, but as an outsider, I feel that the Tanzanian media is too fully of politics, party politics. I also believe that as an outsider I could be wrong. In my opinion, and I could be wrong again, I believe that people or readers are interested first in bread and butter issues. Food first, then shelter, and other things like health, education etc etc follow?

Politics, in my opinion, is entertainment, just like soccer. Everyone, including someone who cannot score a penalty even when there is no goalkeeper, is an expert.  In my opinion, and I could be wrong, people only become interested in politics when they cannot get the basics. It is then that they want to find out who is denying them those basics, or why some are having it so nice when they are not.

In my opinion, I believe that by devoting too much time to politics, the media is doing politicians a favour because it is avoiding the real issues that politicians are supposed to deliver to the people that elected them. The media is not asking them to be accountable to the electorate, the people that they promised things that would improve their lives if they voted for them.

Does the Tanzanian media ask:

  • If politicians are not accountable to the people, who are they accountable to?
  • Who should supply the basic needs that I talked about-food and shelter?
  • People will tell you it is the government but do people know who the government is?
  • Does the average Tanzanian know that the government is accountable to Tanzanians or the electorate?
  • Or do they see the government as some faceless animal that has nothing to do with them, and therefore do not question why a civil servant is abusing a government vehicle, or why a civil servant wants a bribe to issue them a birth certificate?
  • Is the Tanzanian media asking why there is this detachment between the government and the governed?
  • Does the media question why politicians get away with not providing the electorate what they promised as they are re-elected despite failing to meet their promises?

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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