THE government Communications and Information Officers must learn to respond quickly to social media tweets that targets at misinforming the general public about the government, the Minister for Information, Communication and Information Technology, Nape Nnauye has directed.
Minister Nape further directed the officers to frequently update the government websites, saying it was appalling that most of the websites including those of Local Government Authorities (LGAs) still display outdated information, which does not match with time.
He gave such officers 14 days to update their websites or face disciplinary action.
He was opening the 17th meeting of the Tanzania Association of Government Communication Officers (TAGCO) in Tanga on Monday.
“You have a critical role to play in showing what the government has done and is doing. It is not a correct culture to keep mum to misinformation by individuals, whose intention is to smear the government… you must challenge them by providing correct information and data,” he said.
Mr Nape said the group of information officers from the central government, LGAs and government institutions is quite big and enough to quash any false information that is spread in the social media and other platforms.
“If every one of you reacts to tweets smearing the government, certainly this would weaken the impact of false information and make majority of the people understand what the government is doing,” he said.
He said the role of information officers is to make the public understand and appreciate what the government is doing and in turn, enable the government to know what the people are saying or thinking on various issues related to their development.
Speaking on existence of websites managed by the LGAs which still store information that does not match with time, the Minister gave information officers from those authorities 14 days, starting from May 14 to update their websites or face disciplinary measures.
He said storing such information makes people less attracted to visiting such sites.
Nape further called on regions and districts to have communications strategies that would be used to enrich the National Communication Strategy whose draft would be presented at the meeting by the Information Services Department.
He called for constant training programmes for information officers to build their knowledge on ongoing development projects in their areas and further enable them to set programmes for publicising those projects.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Communication and Information Technology, Dr Jim Yonazi stressed the need for information and communications officers to be committed and creative to improve their work of informing the public on government development.
He said that they must understand that they have a duty not only to inform Tanzanians alone, but they have a duty of informing the whole world about Tanzania.
Earlier, the Director of the Information Services and Chief Government Spokesman, Gerson Msigwa asked the government to employ more information and communications officers to all the regions, and LGAs.
He said that there are only 99 LGAs out of 184 LGAs have information officers while at the regional levels seven regions do not have information officers.