On police brutality and the need for journalists to have “risk insurance”

Presidents Gauck and Kikwete, photo from Deutsche Welle

Presidents Gauck and Kikwete, photo from Deutsche Welle

I have several short extracts from today’s media for you.

First, from Deutche Welle, quoting German President Joachim Gauck, who is visiting Tanzania this week:

“What did our German forefathers see and feel, what hymns did they sing, when they first arrived in this place in the days of the Kaiser.” He was referring to the founding the colony of German East Africa.

I suppose it is a compliment, but colonial nostalgia is probably not the best way to win local popularity .

Now, lets turn to related, but more substantive matters. From Mtanzania:

President Gauck showered Tanzania in praise for how the country follows the rule of law, freedom of the press and protection of human rights.

He said he was satisfied with how Tanzania respects human rights and the pace of dealing with the problem of corruption. (1)

It was a German journalist who took issue with these statements, and asked for the views of the two presidents on the ban on The East African newspaper and the beating of members of the opposition CUF party, including party leader, Prof Lipumba, by the police last week (see this video from VoA for evidence).

Now, from the Citizen, President Kikwete’s response to the question:

Mr Kikwete said what befell Prof Lipumba “was simply a matter of compliance with country’s laws.”

“There are rules governing demonstrations in this country… for instance, you need to secure police permission first—you can’t just wake up and demonstrate,” he said, adding: “If you follow the rules nothing will happen to you, but if you don’t you will be booked.”

On Tuesday last week, baton-wielding police violently dispersed CUF supporters who had gathered in the city to commemorate the killing of 21 people in post-election protests in Zanzibar in 2001. Prof Lipumba and 32 CUF supporters were arrested and later sent to court.

And on press freedom and the ban of The East African:

President Kikwete said that the paper had not been registered in the country and has stopped circulation until all proper procedures to operate are met.

Meanwhile, the (Tz) Guardian reports on deputy Minister of Information, Juma Nkamia, responding to a question in parliament on media law:

he said the first role for journalists’ security lays with the journalists themselves.

“They have to be careful and protect themselves,” he said. “They should also know their work parameters, … and should adhere to ethics when performing their duties. They should know the dos and don’ts in respective areas. Journalists should bear in mind that they are not above the laws of the land.”

The (government-owned) Daily News reported on the same “advice” from the Deputy Minister as follows:

Media owners in Tanzania have been urged to cover their workers with risk insurance, so they can be compensated in case they are injured or die while on duty.

“It should also be noted that journalists are regarded as some kind of soldiers and therefore are expected to be very careful when performing their work,” he stated.

Remember that it is not long since a Tanzanian journalist, Daud Mwangosi, was killed by the police while doing his job. Or since a respected editor of a national newspaper, Absalom Kibanda, was brutally attacked. Nobody has yet been held accountable in either case.

Which makes me wonder whether the Deputy Minister’s comments could be a subtle reminder to journalists to stay on the right side of government and the police?

Finally, from Deutsche Welle again, two paragraphs that go a long way to explaining the German President’s statements:

President Gauck has brought along a sizeable delegation of industry representatives. They are looking for opportunities in East Africa. … One of the companies most interested is German Ferrostaal, which has joined a consortium to build a fertilizer plant in cooperation with the Tanzanian Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC). Total investment is said to be around one billion euro ($1.2 billion). … President Kikwete hoped: “If all goes well, I’d be very happy before we depart that we should have witnessed the signatures. I think that would be the happiest moment for me”.

A member of the German delegation, who wished to remain anonymous, pointed out that in times like these one cannot be too choosy. Otherwise one will end up with no partners at all.

Actually, let me give the final word to the Tanzania Twitterverse:

– – – – –

Further reading / watching:

– – – – –

Original Swahili quotes:

(1) Rais Gauck aliimwagia sifa Tanzania kutokana na namna inavyofuata utawala wa sheria, uhuru wa vyombo vya habari na kulinda haki za binadamu.

Alisema anaridhishwa na jinsi Tanzania inavyosimamia haki za binadamu na kasi ya kushughulikia tatizo la rushwa.

One thought on “On police brutality and the need for journalists to have “risk insurance”

  1. Pingback: Links zum Wochenende #78 | Claire Grauer

Comments are closed.