Samattas tough words Wednesday, 04 May 2011 23:08 By Edward Qorro The Citizen Reporter Dar es Salaam. Retired Chief Justice Barnabas Samatta has challenged the media in Tanzania to stand firm in its crusade against corruption. Speaking at the Excellence in Journalism Awards Tanzania (Ejat) ceremony in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday evening, Mr Justice Samatta said the war against corruption cannot be won without the media playing a pivotal role. He said corrupt leaders and oppressors would not succeed in fulfilling their evil deeds if the media acted more responsibly. I cant imagine you putting your pens down dont give room to the corrupt to celebrate your defeat suppressing the media is akin to gagging the public, he said at the Mlimani City Conference Centre during the event organised by the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT). Mr Justice Samatta said anybody who vouched for vibrant democracy and good governance could not fail to notice the importance of the media to mankind, adding that the peoples basic rights and good governance would be in jeopardy if corrupt leaders were not thwarted. He said the media should not allow and entertain the concept by the 19th century French ruler Napoleon Bonaparte, who once remarked that the only important thing was the continuous accumulation of money and power the rest was not important. The corrupt should never be allowed to think that this philosophy is welcome in Tanzania, he said. Mr Justice Samatta further warned: Without winning the war on corruption, the peoples freedom, democracy and good governance will all be at stake.He, however, urged journalists in the country to observe rules and regulations governing the profession as they went about their duties. Mr Justice Samatta said if journalists remained united in their crusade against graft, the corrupt would find it hard to further their selfish interests. The retired chief justice also appealed to state-run media houses to accord equal coverage to all political parties, and cited Ghana and Kenya as an example of countries whose constitutions compelled state-owned media to cover all political parties equally. He said the constitutions of the two countries had clauses explaining the role of state-run media in adequately accommodating divergent views expressed by ruling and opposition parties alike.This creates an environment that fosters democracy. In a multi-party democracy environment such as ours, it is vital for state-owned media to recognise and give voice to other political parties, Mr Justice Samatta told an attentive audience. Citing examples, he said Section 163 of Ghanas constitution stipulates that state-owned media shall afford equal presentation of divergent and dissenting views. He added that Section 34(4) of Kenyas new constitution states that all state-owned media shall be free to independently determine the editorial content of their broadcasts or other communications. Mr Justice Samatta said the media industry in Tanzania enjoyed little freedom as provided in the current constitution.Though regarded as the fourth estate, the media has not had full freedom of operating, he noted. The retired chief justice also expressed his concern at he termed as increasing lawlessness, warning that the country could become ungovernable if the trend was not checked. He cited Dar es Salaam as am example, saying the city was now the epitome of lawlessness. People are freely violating the law on the grounds that this is a free state where you can do anything you want to. The situation is alarming, Mr Justice Samatta said. He said Tanzanians were expected to abide by the law at all times, and not only when they were asked to do so.