“The Newspaper titled “Mawio” shall
cease publication permanently including any electronic communication as
per the Electronic and Postal Communication Act, with effect from January
15th, 2016”.


his statement appeared in the government notice no
55, published on
January 15, evidence that the infamous Newspaper
Act of 1976 had
struck again, this
time to de-register
the privately owned weekly tabloid
called Mawio and stop the publication
from operating entirely, even through
online platforms. Information Minister
Nape Nnauye claimed that Mawio had
demonstrated a culture of publishing inflammatory content and despite repeated warnings it had refused to tone down
its “provocative” coverage.
Previously, the Act was used to ban
publications that authorities claim were
undermining the law of the land, including Mawio’s sister paper MwanaHalisi
which was banned indefinitely in 2015.
However, MwanaHalisi successfully
challenged the ban in the High Court of
Tanzania and was back in the streets in
2016. The same Act was used to suspend
The East African, a weekly publication,
in early 2015 for allegedly not “being
properly registered,” even though the
paper had been operating in the country
for more than two decades. In 2016 the
government allowed the return of the
East African.
Before the media had time to process
the news of the closure of the paper,
on Monday 18 January, just three days


So This is Democracy? 2016

after Mawio was completely removed
from the newsstands, the Government
suspended 27 TV and Radio stations for
three months for failing to fulfill their licensing requirements. With only three
months in power, the 5th phase government had sent a clear message to
the media in Tanzania that the next 57
months weren’t going to be easy.

A very challenging year
for media freedom in
the country...
Media Freedom
While the region and the world celebrate the presidency of John Magufuli
in Tanzania, there is no doubt that 2016
has been a very challenging year for media freedom in the country.
It was marked with banning and suspension of many media outlets. Not only
were media outlets attacked but also
individual journalists were victims of
press freedom violations all over Tanzania. The violations ranged from physical
assaults, threats and intimidation, harassment and court cases over sedition
charges, denial of access to information
in public offices or access public events.
Close to 40 cases of media freedom violations were recorded last year from all
over the country.
Some of the notable ones were the
abduction of the Zanzibar based
Mwananchi newspaper reporter and
Deutsche Welle (DW) correspondent Salma Said. Salma was flying from

Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam and was abducted by a group of men travelling in
an unmarked saloon car on exiting Julius Nyerere International Airport. She
was released after three days from an
unknown location where she had been
held and tortured.
‘TAKE ONE’ a lifestyle TV show by
Clouds TV was suspended for three
months by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) for
allegedly airing programmes that promote prostitution and homosexuality.
The suspension sparked mixed opinions
among Tanzanians over the content of
the programmes aired.
Once again, Information Minister Nape
Nnauye ordered two privately owned
stations, Radio Five of Arusha and Magic FM based in Dar es Salaam to cease
their broadcasting over allegedly “seditious” content that could incite tpublic
violence and disturb the peace.
Kagera-based AZAM TV reporter Junior
Mwemezi was arrested by anti-robbery
police in Kagera town towards the end
of the year for allegedly possessing
government documents illegally. Mwemezi had written a story on tax evasion
by a company. According to Mwemezi
the story showed some malpractice by
several public officials and this angered
them. Earlier on, Mwemezi had been
given a tip on the matter and had these
documents in his car when the anti-robbery squad arrested and took him to police station for interrogation. According
to him he was handcuffed and beaten.
He was released on bail after six days.
With support from his lawyer, the issue
of possessing public documents was taken off the table but he still has another
case in court for allegedly impersonating a public official.
One of the biggest blows to press free-

dom in 2016 was the government decision to ban the live broadcasting of the
Parliament Sessions in April 19. Despite
public outcry in conjunction with journalists and human rights groups alike,
the government turned a deaf ear. This
wasn’t only a challenge to the media but
a direct denial of the public’s right to
information. The Government claimed
that live broadcasting was expensive,
and according to state officials it cost
up to Tanzania Shillings 5 billion. When
Tanzania Media Foundation (TMF) offered to cover the cost of live broadcasts, it was rejected. This led critics to
believe that there was another motive
behind the ban.

The MSA has created
a number of bodies
which …. undermine
the freedom of the
Even though perpetration of media violations include ordinary citizens, there
is overwhelming evidence that in 2016,
Government institutions and political
leaders were the highest in number in
terms of committing violations. Media
monitoring reports from other organizations such as the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), Tanzania Human Rights
Defenders Coalition (THRDC) and
others indicate that violations committed by government institutions (police,
government officials) make up to 80 per
cent of the violations reported.

So This is Democracy? 2016


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