anzania is repeatedly held up as an
example of a functioning democracy
with President John
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
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-


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
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.

Select target paragraph3