T NATIONAL OVERVIEW anzania is repeatedly held up as an example of a functioning democracy with President John Magufuli being described as the symbol of good leadership. He is constantly lauded for reducing excessive government spending, working on improvements in service delivery and his strong focus on the country’s economic growth - qualities that tick all the boxes when judging the merits of good leadership on the African continent. For these reasons minimal attention is being paid to the alleged clampdown on media freedom, the shrinking of the freedom of expression space and the crackdown on human rights defenders and opposition members. The 2017 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders ranked Tanzania 83 out of 180 countries – a climb down from a ranking of 71 in 2016. This outlook is supported by CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society organisations, which has placed Tanzania on a list of countries to monitor along with Cambodia, Cameroon, Honduras and Poland. During an audience with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, CIVICUS warned that restrictions on civic space are “often a bellwether for further violations of human rights and allow states to act with impunity.” This concern may be warranted when judging the actions of the current administration during the course of 2017 which was marked by newspaper suspensions, punitive fines for the broad- 108 So This is Democracy? 2017 casting sector, harassment of, and threats and assaults against journalists, missing journalists and arbitrary arrests of political opponents and human rights defenders. The autonomy of the state broadcaster continues being compromised through political and commercial interference. Unprofessional media conduct has led to a gap between outcomes of news reporting and those at the centre of it. The inadequate, and in some cases lack of sustainable media initiatives, has resulted in some media houses struggling, and payment of salaries to media staff being delayed. The Media Services Act grants authorities sweeping powers “to prevent or put obstacles to the publication of any content that endangers national security or public safety”, thereby replacing selfregulation of the media with government regulation.