Tanzanian gov’t bans another weekly tabloid over “cooked” article

DAR ES SALAAM, Oct. 3 — The government of Tanzania on Friday
banned another weekly tabloid for 90 days over publication over what the
government termed as a cooked article.

A statement issued by the Director of Information Services and Chief
Government Spokesperson, Hassan Abbas, said the government had banned the
tabloid called Raia Mwema loosely translated into English as “Good Citizen”
for publishing an article entitled in Kiswahili as “Uraisi Utamshinda John
Magufuli” loosely translated into “John Magufuli’s presidency doomed to
fail.” The statement said the article for which the tabloid has been
banned was a “fair comment” but insisted that some lines purportedly
quoting President John Magufuli were “cooked.” “This tabloid has been
warned repeatedly in the past,” said the statement, adding that the
decision to ban the tabloid was made in accordance with Section 59(2) of
the Information Services Act, 2016, which gives the Minister of Information
the powers to ban a newspaper.

The government’s decision to ban the weekly tabloid came hardly 10 days
after another weekly tabloid, Mwanahalisi, was banned from publication for
two years over publication of seditious news. Abbas said the ban on
Mwanahalisi which published seditious news and failed to adhere to
professionalism extended to the tabloid’s online publications. This was
not the first time the government had attempted to ban Mwanahalisi. In
2012, the government also tried to shut down the tabloid, but the editors
went to court and the ban was ruled illegal.

Another Mwanahalisi publication, Mawio, was banned earlier this year.
Reporters Without Borders, which monitors press freedom, ranked Tanzania
83rd out of 180 countries in their 2017 World Press Freedom Index. “Abuses
against journalists and media outlets, including suspensions and closures,
threats, attacks, and arrests, are frequent,” the group said in their
overview of Tanzania. – XINHUA