Dar es Salaam. Tanzania Editors Forum (TEF) and the Union of Dar es Salaam Press Clubs (UDPC) have announced media blackout against Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda following his raid of Clouds Media Group (CMG) studios at the weekend.
They have also named him ‘enemy of the media number one’.
Announcing the decision reached during the editors meeting held on Tuesday, TEF secretary Neville Meena said the meeting had resolved to boycott covering events and activities organised by the RC.
“We strongly condemn the acts. We have jointly resolved to boycott participation in news coverage at events involving the RC and that we are naming Mr Makonda an enemy of press freedom in the country,” he said.
Reading a joint statement signed by TEF chairman Theophil Makunga and UDPC chairperson Jane Mihanji, he said the blackout did not include activities, which the RC would be participating as an invitee. “The press will make coverage of activities of national interest attended by the RC without publishing or broadcasting his involvement,” he said.
“For instance, if he attends a function organised by Lands minister or when attending the Independence Day ceremony at the Uhuru Stadium, the media will cover all other events, but issues involving Mr Makonda will not,” he added.
Mr Meena warned owners of online media platforms over their private cooperation with Mr Makonda saying TEF and UDPC would bear no responsibility on damages that would come following such a relationship.
He said the editors meeting convened specifically to discuss Mr Makonda’s March 17 raid at Clouds Media Group during which the RC forcibly ordered a programme of his liking to run.
The RC, accompanied by armed soldiers, also forcibly grabbed a programme content owned by the media organization.
“It is the continuation of attacks against journalists. There are reports the RC has been extending abusive language to reporters attending events organized by him for news coverage,” he said.
According to him, RCs and DCs have been using powers entrusted to them to restrict journalists from discharging their duties contrary to the Media Services Act, 2016.
The TEF secretary said Mr Makonda’s storming of the media organization was an act that would have caused an upheaval, thus threatening peace and security in the country.
“What would have happened if Clouds Media Group security guards had restricted the heavily armed RC’s companions, what could have happened?” he questioned.
“Tanzanians and advocates of peace and security shouldn’t allow these acts to continue and should strongly condemn what happened,” he added.