By Jenerali Ulimwengu Posted Monday, May 2 2011 President Jakaya Kikwete has just appointed the man to take the place left vacant after the non-renewal of Tido Mhando's contract as director general of the state broadcasting outfit, TBC. The new chief, handpicked by the president as per tradition, is one Clement Mshana, immediate former director of the government Department of Information. There is nothing particularly untoward about this appointment, seeing as Mshana is a dyed-in-the-wool infocrat of the your-obedient-servant variety who will certainly fit the bill of one to receive and carry out orders regarding what can and what cannot be aired. I would not be the one to suggest that the president has in any way overstepped his authority by making that appointment, knowing after all, that all his predecessors at Ikulu did the same thing without batting an eyelid or raising any eyebrows. So, why are we talking about this appointment as though it were news? It' simply because we have been, perhaps unreasonably, expecting some changes, which some of us think are long overdue. For some time now, various media stakeholders have called for the state broadcaster to morph into a public broadcasting organisation, funded and run by a non-political team of experts unbeholden to any political cabal, with a view to making it truly a public good unfettered by state and political meddling. This would mean the removal of the president or his ministers from the hiring and firing process, making the chief executive a relatively free agent _ he would only have to listen to his board, also not appointed by the president - in deciding on content and policy directions. The government has dithered over taking this crucial step, saying one thing - yes, we will make it public - and doing nothing of the sort. When Tido Mhando came down from the Beeb to run this show, some of us thought the government was in earnest with its promise, only for us to receive a hefty kick in the teeth when his contract was unceremoniously not renewed. Government contracts are renewed at the pleasure of the government, sure, but a well meaning government would perhaps want to indicate the source of its (dis)pleasure, especially if it was that government that caused the person so contracted to leave another job that may or may not have been more lucrative, but was certainly more gratifying professionally. Whatever one may think about that particularly vexed issue, the appointment of another infocrat - more censor than editor - should be read as notice that this public broadcaster thing will not fly, at least not for now. Unless, that is, Mshana does a number on his principals by emulating Tido and instituting measures to make his television and radio a de facto public broadcaster and refusing to heed the shrill voices telling him not to bite the hand that feeds him ugali. He would have to be in a frame of mind that tells him that man does not live by ugali alone, for there are also chapati and noodles. But there is no need for him to be a hero, because, as matters stand, he can achieve a lot by doing precisely nothing: By leaving TBC be, allowing the refreshing innovations put in place by Tido to continue without disruption. This would mean continuing to allow some breathing space to opposition party spokespeople and airing material that embarrasses the government if it serves the public good. TBC could become, as it has already shown, a formidable instrument in raising public awareness by playing fair and square. It is this quality that has made it the number one choice for television watchers in the country. But, of course, our rulers, who have become so expert at raining on their own parade, can still spoil it all by breathing down his neck. He can tell them to go breathe down some other neck, opting for noodles, or he can cling onto his ugali, and buckle under. Whatever happens, we will continue to demand a public broadcaster.