Two phenomena are striking when looking at the individual shareowners, founders, managers in media: while wealthy Tanzanians are strongly represented, the number of female owners and media managers is almost at zero.
Media Owners have interests in other business sectors
The owner database presents three owners who also appear in another list - the Forbes Top5 of richest Tanzanians:
- Rostam Aziz - first billionaire from Tanzania with businesses in Telecoms, Mining, and Shipping. He still holds shares Vodacom Tanzania and is involved in New Habari (2006). He was elected into parliament in 1993 and served as MP for two terms. He quit politics in 2011 to focus on his businesses.
- Said Salim Bakhresa - the self-made millionaire founded a grain milling and food production company, which formed the flagship for the Bakhresa group. He launched Azam TV, a pay TV service for East Africa. Bakhresa Group is today one of East Africa’s largest conglomerates, with more than 5,000 employees and ventures in food and beverages, packaging, ferry services and petroleum trading.
- Dr. Reginald Mengi - the former accountant founded and now chairs the IPP Group which runs 10 national newspapers, two of East Africa’s most popular Television stations (EATV and ITV), and about ten radio stations. His businesses also include bottling and gold mining.
Wealth coinciding with media ownership is not necessarily critical. However, there is a risk that media owners with business agendas may (ab)use their channels with the ultimate goal of promoting and facilitating their other companies – at the expense of socially relevant content.
Gender and media – a politically neglected topic
The research supports what civil society already claims for a long time: female media shareholders and managers are greatly underrepresented:
- There is only one woman as majority shareholder – Dr. Lilian Mtei who holds 75% in Freeman Media. She works as a doctor, and is wife to CHADEMA Chairman Freeman Mbowe.
- There are six minority shareholders. Five of them related to Joseph Kusaga: Judith Violet Kusaga, Sheba Martha Kusaga, Joyce Alex Kusaga, Alex Justine Kusaga, Prisca Mkama Kusaga who all hold minority shares in Clouds Entertainment. Justina Antoine Ciza is co-owner of E-FM Company Limited.
The available data does not allow valid statements on the ratio of male to female board members, or even male to female reporters in the newsrooms. This will require further research and an openness by media houses to support related surveys. The existing data, however, already shows that action is needed to change the situation. So far, political will seems limited. MCT together with other media stakeholders proposed policy action on gender equality in media already in 2001. It was one of 18 proposals – and one of only three, which policy makers did not take up. There seems to be a certain reluctance to deal with the issue until today.