‘Congratulations to Mr R A Mengi and the IPP Group’ said a prominent full-page advertisement in the ‘Daily News’ on June 11th ‘on this auspicious occasion of the opening of ITV (Independent Television Limited)’. But the celebrations were short lived. For, at the same time as this ‘professional’ TV station opened, another one, CTN (Coastal Television Network), described in the Daily News as a ‘more makeshift outfit’, also commenced operations. And the World Cup was about to commence.
AND THEN TURMOIL
In no time the two stations were at the High Court suing each other and Radio Tanzania for infringing their rights to televise the cup matches. Then things became very much more serious. They ignored advice in an editorial in the ‘Express’ which had applauded the two stations for their ‘courage and commitment to an enterprise which could hardly show meaningful profits for the next five years’. The Express suggested that they should cooperate in their mutual interest.
Viewers were astonished to hear next that 14 persons including the Director of a third licensed TV station, Dar es Salaam Television, and the principal competitor of ITV, Mr A1 Munir Karim, Director of CTN, had been arrested for threatening to kill IPP Chairman Reginald Mengi and blow up his ITV television station. The defendants were granted bail and the case was postponed to September 9th to give the police more time to collect evidence. The defendants were instructed not to go near any IPP company or Mr Mengi’s house. Some elements of the press in Dar es Salaam began to fan racial flames on this and other recent developments by pointing out that Mr Mengi was a successful indigenous Tanzanian (he recently strengthened his IPP company by joining the well-known international conglomerate Colgate-Palmolive) but the defendants in the case were Asian or ‘non-indigenous’.
An earlier event related to the Mengi saga was the action of the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mr Silvano Adel, who had, on the night of June 23rd, consulted several senior police officials to facilitate the release of one of the suspects in the case, Mr Shabir Dewji, who was being held at the Central Police Station. Mr Dewji was released. It had apparently been alleged that Mr Dewji’s car had earlier chased Mr Mengi’s vehicle.
On July 12th it was announced that President Mwinyi had retired with immediate effect the Principal Secretary. A statement from the Minister of Home Affairs stated that the release (at 1.30am) of Mr Dewji had caused ripples among members of the public who felt that favouritism was being shown. This had tarnished the government’s image. Any public servant bringing the government’s reputation into question would not be tolerated.
The ITV station is broadcasting from 5 pm to about 11 pm each day and its programmes include local music, a children’s programme, ‘Neighbours’, local and foreign drama/films and, while it was on, massive coverage of the World Cup – Daily News and other sources.