Media stakeholders - Worried by sporadic attacks on journalists, two of them fatal, within a span of six months, media stakeholders in Tanzania have resolved to meet heads of the country’s public security agencies over the matter, citing deterioration of their safety and working environment.
A 16-member committee has been set up to seek audience with Home Affairs Minister Emmanuel Nchimbi, Inspector General of Police Said Mwema, Tanzania Intelligence and Security Services director Othman Rashid and Edward Hoseah, Director General of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB).
“The rate of these incidents has been on the increase. As a result we need to meet these top leaders and discuss what went wrong and what we can do to ensure the safety for this endangered group,” said Reginal Mengi, chair of the Media Owners Association of Tanzania.
In the latest incident about three weeks ago, Absalom Norman Kibanda, chair of Tanzania Editors Forum and Managing Editor of New Habari (2006) Limited group was attacked by so far- unidentified persons and seriously injured at night as he approached the entrance to his residence in Dar es Salaam.
Kibanda is currently undergoing medical treatment in South Africa. The attackers also smashed his car and escaped.
According to a medical report, the first phase of Kibanda’s treatment included removal of his left eye, which doctors found “irreparably damaged” during the ambush.
A number of organisations, including Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition, Union of Tanzania Press Clubs, Tanzania Centre for Democracy (TCD) and the UK-registered charity Article 19, have condemned the attack on Kibanda.
Media stakeholders here insist that the brutal attack on Kibanda was aimed at intimidating media practitioners and human rights activists.
“Our aim is to meet them (the five security chiefs) and discuss the details of issues related to the safety and security of persons being attacked, tortured or killed,” said veteran journalist Saed Kubenea, himself a victim of an acid attack by unknown persons while he was at work in his office.
Due to the seriousness of the injuries he sustained, Kubenea was taken to India for treatment at government cost. His colleague, Ndimara Tegambwage, who was also splashed with the same acid, had his injury treated locally.
A correspondent with private Channel Ten TV, Daudi Mwangosi, lost his life on 30 September 2012 at the hands of policemen who were purportedly controlling a rally of the opposition Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA).
He was the first journalist violently killed in Tanzania while on duty. A policeman has been charged with the murder and the case is still in court.
In January 2013, the bullet riddled body of Issa Ngumba, correspondent of Radio Kwizera, was retrieved from a forest in Kakonko area of the western Tanzania region of Kigoma where he was based.
According to unofficial reports, Ngumba’s family raised alarm about his disappearance after he failed to return home from work.
Meeting as a coalition, Tanzanian media stakeholders have expressed profound disappointment with members and officials of the country’s law-enforcement and security agencies who they charged were “being used as agents in criminal activities threatening the security of journalists and the citizenry”.
The group comprised the Media Owners Association of Tanzania, the Tanzania Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Tan), Tanzania Media Fund, Tanzania Media Women Association, Media Council of Tanzania, and Tanzania Editors Forum.