The ethics committee for Tanzania’s Media Council called on newspaper Dira ya Mtanzania to apologize for its “series of false, malicious and defamatory articles” in four editions, Tanzanian news site the Daily News reported. IPP Media described the newspaper as a “local tabloid.”
The council identifies itself as “an independent, voluntary, non-statutory self regulatory body ”
The ethics committee reviewed the newspaper’s work after Joyce Mapunjo, Tanzania’s Ministry of Industry and Trade permanent secretary, complained to the council over the reports which Mapunjo said “portrayed me as a dishonest and corrupt person.” As the Daily News explained, the articles claimed she “had an interest in the country’s process of joining the GS1 Bar Code System.”
According to the Daily News, the newspaper “neither made submissions to defend themselves nor appeared before the judges.”
The ethics committee’s chairperson, Justice Tomas Mihayo is quoted by the Daily News as saying:
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“The committee does not award damages, we have all agreed that the complainant is right and that the paper published things that did not have any basics of truth.”
The council’s ethics code (published here) advises Tanzanian journalists to publish “only proven and accurate stories.”
An early February report from the Daily News reported that the ethics committee had agreed to hear another complaint against Dira ya Mtanzania newspaper. The former prime minsiter, Edward Lowassa, complained that the newspaper’s articles in October and November 2011 “defamed him.” Lowassa wanted a “retraction and public apology.”
According to the council’s website, complainants must go to the news outlet to resolve any issues before filing a complaint with the council. Further, the council notes that “mediation is one of the basic pillars of the Council” but if a “complainant is not satisfied with the Council settlement, he/she can resort to court action.”
We have written to the media council for more information and will update with any response.