The Speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania Dr. Tulia Ackson, has ordered the reinstatement of headteachers who were suspended after students danced to the song ‘Honey’ by Zuchu.
He made this decision on Monday, November 6, 2023, in response to reports that the headteachers were suspended even though they were not present at the school when the incident occurred.
The Minister of Education, Professor Adolf Mkenda, had ordered the suspension of the headteachers on November 2, 2023, after a video circulated showing teachers and students dancing to the song ‘Honey,’ which was deemed to have inappropriate content for students.
Today, the Speaker provided an opportunity for MP Husna Sekiboko, who explained the video and the actions taken. Sekiboko expressed concerns that playing music in religious institutions and schools was undermining Tanzanian culture.
She argued that playing the song ‘Honey’ in Tunduru Primary School, where young children danced to it, was inappropriate and called on the government to define which songs could be played in such places and what actions should be taken against those involved.
Minister of Education Professor Adolf Mkenda emphasized that the government is responsible for managing educational institutions, including controlling music with lyrics promoting sexual content, alcohol, and the like.
He clarified that not all songs approved in the public domain should be played in schools. The government would be vigilant in ensuring that moral standards were upheld.
Following these discussions, the Speaker of the Parliament questioned the Minister about the decision to suspend the headteachers without hearing their side of the story.
“Disciplinary actions come in two phases; a person must be heard before any actions are taken. If they were not present on the day of the event, the disciplinary authority should not have taken action without giving them a chance to explain themselves,” the speaker acknowledged.
“There are reports that they were not present at the school, and the disciplinary authority took action when they were absent. Therefore, saying that they should be suspended pending an appeal is not appropriate. They should be reinstated, and they should be allowed to present their side of the story, not suspended,” the speaker said.
Dr. Tulia Ackson stressed the importance of not confusing religious beliefs with Tanzanian cultural and moral values. He urged that it was not right to undermine the cultural values that hold society together.