Thursday, September 14, 2006
Wimpy or Forgetful Media?
Occasionally there are stories that pop up in Bongoland that I would personally regard as historical. I regard them as such because they carry with them a potential for bringing a change in the political and ethical climate in the country. Such stories include an episode about our former ambassador to Italy, Professor Mahalu who is accused of “stealing” a lot of public funds. Another such story is of members of parliament, who were never mentioned publicly, for allegedly misrepresenting their academic credentials.
Those two stories I have cited as an example surfaced not last week, even last month, but over three months ago. As far as I know, no resolution has been made as to whether these individuals officially be brought to justice or otherwise. As you already know, the reason given by the Prevention of Corruption Bureau (PCB)for the delay of the Professor Mahalu’s story is the classical crap “uchunguzi bado unaendelea”. I have not heard any inquiries or development as far the accused mbuge’s saga, but I can guarantee you with 100% certainty, that the same classical reason would be given.
I would not want to dwell on the government’s own snail-type kasi mpya resolution of the issues, but rather I would like to hammer the Bongoland media for letting these stories “die”. See, in my point of view, the media has let wananchi down at times. That is due to the fact that they have chosen to dwell on stories that are meaningless. You can always tell such stories by the headlines they come with – a classic "Kikwete Kiboko". Such a headlines give the impression that the reader will find a dramatic event, only to come across not-so-extraordinary contents.
My expectation was the media, particularly the independent media, would pursue these stories to the very end. For one, to help the government realize that covering up rotten officials is not going to fly. If the government cannot take the likes of Professor Mahalu to the courts of law, at the media can help “prosecute” such people in the court of “public interest”. Whether the media in Tanzania recognizes this or not, there are so many incidences in the world where the course of history has been changed by a journalist who decided to use their pen for delivering the masses. Why is the media in Tanzania doing the same?
Secondly, given the track record of the Bongoland government in covering up such stories through formation of meaningless investigative commissions and deliberate delay in uchunguzi, it is only safe to presume that the government is “helping” out Professor Mahalu and the “lying” mbunge in covering up their dirt. I would expect that some serious editor, journalist, or somebody in the media circles would deliberately decide to break the back of this filthy government tactic. I am sure by publishing these stories on a constant basis; these issues will be very well alive. At some point, those guys in the PCB office will take notice. At some point, those bureaucrats at Ikulu will pay attention.
Social activism is not only about picketing or hitting the streets burning cars and shouting aloud, it could be done through a constant reminder of the masses’ expectations. I couldn’t think of a better way of helping the government realize its duty of promoting ethical standards among its officers and prosecuting those who have breached public trust than a through a newspaper story. So as I sit here and see that someone like Professor Mahalu, despite all that he did, is becoming a forgotten villain. So my question to the Tanzania media is, are you wimpy or just forgetful? Whatever it is, you are letting the public down. Would you keep these stories alive until we see the end?