Kenya: Draconian bill now law
Kenyan publishers are now required to execute a Kenya shilling 1 million bond up from the current Kenya shillings 10,000 before they can publish. The miscellaneous amendments act bill became law on May 30, after it was published in the Kenya gazette the official government paper.
Failure to comply with the new law will attract a jail term of three to five years, a 1 million shilling fine for first offenders and disqualification from owning or publishing a newspaper or magazine for repeat offenders. Publishers must also submit at least two copies of their publication to the registrar of Books and newspapers before going to the streets.
Newspaper vendors must confirm that the publisher has met all the above requirements before accepting to sell a title. Those who sell newspapers that are not bonded face a fine of KSH 20,000. - US$ 256 or a six-month jail sentence or both.
The bill attracted widespread local and international condemnation when parliament adopted it mid May. "This law is repressive regulation that is potentially seriously damaging to press freedom", said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. The Kenya union of Journalists general Secretary Ezekiel Mutua said " This is the saddest and most unfortunate thing that has happened to the media in decades and signifies the governments' effort to control the media under the guise of regulation". The EAJA coordinator Martin Ocholi described it as "a deliberate and mischievous move by the ruling party and government to deny millions of Kenyans their rights to free speech". "We are seriously concerned that the new regulations will have a severely negative impact on freedom of expression and may force many hundreds of publications to close," the Paris-based WAN and the WEF said in a letter to the President of Kenya, Daniel Arap Moi. Apparently, all these pleas fell on deaf ears.
Uganda:Uganda journalists union condemns law
The Uganda journalists union (UJU) has attacked the amended law to regulate the operations of newspapers in Kenya. In a letter to the IFJ Media for Democracy/EAJA coordinator, the UJU general secretary Stephen Ouma " It has become a culture for African governments and their parliaments to pass laws which are not only oppressive to the media, but also curtail press freedom." He singled out cases in Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and many other African countries. Herbert Lumansi and official of the union added, "Democracy can only exist and be promoted where there is total freedom of the press"
Meanwhile the Uganda journalists union is still awaiting official communication on the fate of their request for registration, which has been pending for several years now. According to Stephen Ouma, attempts to obtain audience with the official registrar of trade unions have been unsuccessful.
Tanzania: TUJ membership grows
Since holding its first general elections in January 2002, the Tanzania union of journalists (TUJ) has embarked on a countrywide membership drive. At election time, there was only one branch. To date the union has opened up branches (chapels) as follows: the Guardian Limited, Habari Cooperation, Mwananchi Media House, The Express Newspaper and Mbeya branch, 700km South of Dar es Salaam. Meanwhile, the TUJ general secretary Godfrey Kambenga is in Turin Italy on an ILO five-week course on Organising and Collective Bargaining. In between he will attend the International Labour Conference in Geneva as part of training before going to Germany on study tour.
In an e-mail message to the EAJA coordinator, Mr Kambonga described the course as an eye opener on trade union organisation. He expects to use the acquired knowledge to encourage more journalists to join the union.
First photography institute
Tanzania may soon have its first ever school of photography, thanks to the efforts of Boaz Mpazi a former Chief Photographer at the Prime Minister's Office. Mr Mpazi has registered a trust that will supervise the running of the Institute in Tanzania.
In an interview Boaz said he had invested his time and money for the last four years planning for the project. Most of this time consumed while fulfilling bureaucratic procedures to formalize the creation of the Institute.
He is now seeking funds to purchase furniture and complete renovations on the building that will house the school.
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