The International Press Institute (IPI) and the Tanzanian Editors Forum (TEF) welcome the openness expressed this week by government officials and political leaders in Tanzania to engage in constructive dialogue with national stakeholders aimed at improving the environment for quality, independent journalism.

During a meeting with IPI and TEF on April 2, Information Minister Dr. Harrison G. Mwakyembe agreed on the importance of dialogue with media representatives to achieve the common goal of strengthening quality journalism in Tanzania. Mwakyembe also said he was open to reviewing the Media Services Act.

Last week, the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) ruled that parts of the law, which was passed in 2016 and has not yet been fully implemented, violated the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the treaty of the East African Community.

IPI and TEF welcome the minister’s statements as a significant step toward improving the level of understanding between the government and the Tanzanian media community. Reviewing the Media Services Act in light of the EACJ’s ruling would be a good step as part of the process of bringing together all media stakeholders in Tanzania to help ensure that journalists are able to produce high-quality reporting on issues of public interest.

In conversations with political leaders, including Parliament Speaker Job Ndugai and several parliamentarians, IPI stressed that quality, independent journalism can be a crucial ally in supporting Tanzania’s progress in top national agenda items such as promoting economic growth and fighting corruption. Building a strong media sector involves not only raising professional capacities but also creating an environment in which journalists are able to fully exercise their national role as the fourth estate alongside the executive, legislative and judicial branches.

The spirit of openness expressed this week offers an opportunity for government officials, legislators, journalists, media owners and civil society to collaborate on a positive media framework in Tanzania that further develops the profession while protecting journalists’ rights.

IPI delegation travelled to Tanzania in cooperation with the TEF to engage in conversations on issues affecting the media and press freedom with a range of stakeholders in both Dar es Salaam and the national capital, Dodoma. The delegation was led by IPI Vice Chair Khadija Patel, editor-in-chief of the South African weekly Mail & Guardian, and also included Carsten von Nahmen, an IPI member and head of Deutsche Welle Akademie; IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen and IPI Director of Advocacy Ravi R. Prasad.

Founded in 1950, IPI is a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists dedicated to promoting press freedom and independent journalism.