Probe team to release report on Makonda

Information, Culture, Arts and Sports minister Nape Nnauye in a conversation with Media Owners Association of Tanzania chairman Reginald Mengi (left) and Clouds Media Group owner Joseph Kusaga (right) after his visit to the media house in Dar es Salaam yesterday. PHOTO|ERICKY BONIPHACE

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Information minister Nape Nnauye is scheduled to announce findings of the probe at press conference

Dar es Salaam. Information, Culture, Arts and Sports minister Nape Nnauye has formed a team to probe reports that Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda intruded into Clouds Media Group (CMG) studios on Friday night.

The team, which will be headed by the director of the Tanzania Information Services, Mr Hassan Abbas, has been given 24 hours to submit its report to the minister.

Mr Nnauye toured CMG studios yesterday and condemned the Regional Commissioner’s acts as an infringement of media freedom.

The minister noted that the RC’s decision to storm the media house with armed policemen only occurs in countries where the government has been overthrown by the military.

“I have already spoken to the management (of CMG) and they have told me what happened; the team will speak to Mr Makonda and will advise me what to do,” said Mr Nnauye.

He gave the team until today afternoon to submit its report. The minister is expected to hold a press conference later today to announce the team’s findings.

Mr Nnauye also condemned what he described as a growing tendency by some politicians to act as though they are above the law.

“There is every indication that some politicians lack tolerance, which is a key component of leadership…there are people who think that they are above the law,” said Mr Nnauye.

Members of the Parliamentary Social Development and Services Committee who also toured the station condemned Mr Makonda’s actions.

Speaking to reporters shortly after the tour, committee chairman Peter Serukamba said Mr Makonda abused his powers by using security forces for his personal interests.

Mr Serukamba said his committee would wait for a report from a probe team formed by the government before advising the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Job Ndugai, on what should be done.

“Today, he has invaded a media house tomorrow he will invade a restaurant, something that is against the country’s laws,” said Mr Serukamba.

The chairman of the Media Owners Association of Tanzania, Mr Reginald Mengi, urged authorities to act on the incident.

CMG chief executive officer Joseph Kusaga urged Mr Makonda to apologise for his actions.

Earlier yesterday morning, CMG programmes director Ruge Mutahaba confirmed that he had told a producer at the station not to air a video footage, which showed a woman claiming that Glory of Christ Tanzania Church Bishop Josephat Gwajima fathered a child with her and abandoned them.

Mr Mutahaba said the content of the video, which went viral on social media, didn’t meet the required standards.

“I received a phone call from the RC, after he had already invaded the station, asking me why we had not aired the video footage, and I told him that the clip wasn’t balanced,” said Mr Mutahaba. According to Mr Mutahaba, the RC saved the video clip on his flash disk.

However, Mr Mutahaba denied rumours circulating on social media that some of the programme’s hosts were beaten by the police.

“No one was beaten by the police, but the boys have been traumatised; some of them have applied for leave,” said Mr Mutahaba.

He said actions by Mr Makonda, who he described as CMG friend, had disappointed the management and staff at the group.

However, Mr Mutahaba said CMG wasn’t contemplating taking legal action against the RC.

A video footage shows the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner escorted by armed policemen as he invaded CMG.

The content of the video also dominated much of the Sunday sermon at Bishop Gwajima’s church.

The closed circuit television (CCTV) footage, which went viral on social media, showed Mr Makonda storming CMG studios after what the outspoken cleric claimed to be the failure by the broadcaster to air a programme that tarnished his image.