Tanzania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement refuting the unverified claims awash in the media that the country’s President John Pombe Magufuli has banned miniskirts.

The claims raised the ire of social media users across the continent, accusing President Magufuli of bigotry, seen to be keen on pushing legislation which would curtail civil liberties. Magufuli was also accused of intolerance and following in the footsteps of Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe, who made controversial statements attributing some cases of rape to the prevalence of mini-skirts.

The statement from Tanzania read, the ministry “has noticed, with serious concern and disapproval, a grossly distorted report in the KenyanStandard newspaper, purporting that H.E. President John Pombe Magufuli has banned the wearing of miniskirts in Tanzania”.

The statement further criticised the “false report” and the “reckless, totally unwarranted attribution of the imaginary ‘ban’” and unequivocally “put the record straight that the President has not issued any ban on miniskirts for any reason”.

The false report has exposed professional and ethical shortcomings within journalism. The statement also notes that the publishers of the original false report need to retract “the wrong information”.

The statement also calls on media practitioners to adhere to the highest ethical standards and observe central tenets of the practice such as fairness and accuracy.

The issues of journalism ethics and professionalism have been making headlines. Uganda recently announced that journalists without a university degree will be barred from covering parliamentary proceedings, in a move meant to improve the quality of reporting. The directive ignited debate on various online platforms, with some users saying the move is unfair and discriminatory and should be reviewed.

As the debate on the quality of journalism rages on, the “mini skirt ban” false report highlights the need for balanced and accurate reporting.

Source: Tanzania Today