LINDI: PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa has urged journalists and editors across the country to intensify coverage of development issues with accuracy and integrity as the government embraces press freedom.
Mr Majaliwa said the Six-Phase Government led by President Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan has opened the doors for editors and journalists to submit their concerns for the excellence of the media industry in the country.
The Premier also directed the Ministry of Information, Communication and Information Technology to make arrangements for collecting debts that public institutions owe the media.
“All government institutions should prepare a plan to ensure that all debts are paid because failure to do so weakens the media,” he stated.
The Prime Minister made the statement on Monday when opening the three-day 7th General Annual Meeting of the Tanzania Editors’ Forum (TEF) in Lindi Region, which has brought together editors and media stakeholders, including government officials.
At the meeting themed “Journalists and Sustainable Gas Economy,” the PM directed editors and journalists to put professionalism and patriotism at the heart of their reporting.
“Use the press freedom available to practice high professionalism, ensuring citizens access news that will lead them to prosperity,” Mr Majaliwa said.
He said journalists and editors have the noble role of creating informed citizenry for the nation’s development, including the implementation of education, water and road projects, among other issues of public interest.
The Premier said the government has been fostering press freedom by strengthening journalists’ access to information.
He directed the Ministry of Information, Communication and Information Technology to put in place a common model for all regions where the Regional Commissioners will provide updates for citizens to familiarise themselves with the country’s development.
The PM said the government plans to review media policies and implement reforms on the Media Services Act of 2016 to create a more friendly atmosphere for journalists’ swift access and dissemination of information.
Mr Majaliwa directed editors and journalists to observe the appropriate use of Press Cards, hinting that the government will work on TEF’s request for an extension of the validity time for the cards from the current one year.
Reacting to the meeting’s theme, Mr Majaliwa commended TEF for choosing a relevant theme in line with the ongoing government transition to a gas economy with Mtwara and Lindi as the hub.
He said currently, natural gas contributes 64 per cent to the country’s production of electricity, equivalent to about 1199 Megawatts (MW), followed by hydropower at 31 percent, equivalent to 575 MW, among other sources.
Deputy Minister for Information, Communication, and Information Technology, Eng Kundo Mathew, said that when Dr Samia came into power in March 2021, she lifted the ban on previously banned media.
To strengthen the economy of media outlets, Eng Mathew said the committee formed in 2023 to evaluate the economic status of the media, led by Veteran Journalist Mr Tido Mhando, is expected to release its report by the end of this month.
“The report from the committee will provide practical recommendations for the strong economy of the country’s media outlets,” he said.
TEF’s Chairperson Deodatus Balile, thanked the government for carrying out concrete reforms for the effective operation of media in the country.
Mr Balile said the media outlets will continue to adhere to fundamental principles, including accuracy, by enhancing the completeness of news disseminated by media across the country.
The United Nations’ Head of the Resident Coordinator’s Office (UN), Ms Shabnam Mallick, called upon the media to play a significant role in highlighting economic issues for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She said editors should ensure that citizens only receive reliable information as the world experiences geopolitical tensions, including the Middle East Crisis and the effects of climate change.
Ms Mallick commended Tanzania for widening media space and freedom of expression, pledging the UN’s collaboration with the government to strengthen citizens’ access to information as public goods.