The President of the Journalists Workers ‘Union of Tanzania (JOWUTA), Claud Gwandu, has called on the Tanzanian Government to “stop issuing general penalties for errors committed by journalists. Government, he said, is always in a haste to close down a media house when such mistakes are committed”.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a two – day Seminar on “Organising in the Digital Economy, Trade Union Reform and Youth Recruitment, organised by JOWUTA in collaboration with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) under the Union to Union (UTU) Project 2021, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from 15- 16 September, Comrade Gwandu said that disciplinary action should be imposed like in any other profession. “Why has it never happened that a hospital is closed due to a mistake or a surgery that has gone wrong?” He further called on the Tanzanian Governmentto uphold the rule of law by implementing the judgments of the East African Court of Appeal which seeks for the repeal of certain provisions in the Media Services Act of 2016.
The two- day seminar, which brought together 22 journalists from various newspapers houses, radio and television stations as well as young journalists who work online was aimed at developing strategies and launching campaigns for the recruitment of young journalists working online, most of whom are exploited and work under precarious conditions.
The majority of journalists at the seminar lamented that journalists in Tanzania, most especially freelance journalists, work without contracts or any form of social security benefits and are amongst the poorest paid in the African continent. “Freelance journalists are seriously exploited by media owners and paid far below the minimum wage”.
Various topics of interest were deliberated upon by the participants during the course of the seminar, including Freedom of Expression and the Rights of Journalists working Online; Challenges of Online Security and legislations governing the use of the Internet in Tanzania; How Technology is transforming Media Business Model; Sexual Harassment and Bullying of female journalists online; an impediment to Quality Journalism; and Designing Effective Recruitment and Campaign Strategies for increased youth membership.