Tanzanian gov’t bans weekly tabloid over publication of seditious news

DAR ES SALAAM, Sept. 21 — The government of Tanzania on Tuesday banned weekly tabloid Mwanahalisi for two years for publishing seditious news and failure to adhere to professionalism.


Hassan Abbas, Director General of Information Services and the Chief Government Spokesperson, said that the ban extended to the tabloid’s online publications. In its Monday, September 18, 2017 publication, the tabloid carried a story with the headline, “Tumuombee nani, Magufuli au Tundu Lissu?” It literally means “Whom should we pray for Magufuli or Tundu Lissu?” and when they were given a chance to defend themselves, they had no strong arguments, Abbas told a news conference in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam. Magufuli is the country’s president and Lissu is an opposition Member of Parliament who was recently wounded after he was shot by gunmen in Dodoma.Abbas said the tabloid had on several occasions been publishing stories that were unethical, despite the fact that his office had tried to talk to the editors several times, but nothing was taken seriously.


In addition said Abbas, on January 30, this year, the weekly tabloid published a story with a Kiswahili headline: “Ufisadi ndani ya Ofisi ya JPM”, literally meaning Corruption within JPM office. JPM is a popular acronym for John Pombe Magufuli but the story was about Kibaha education institution. he spokesperson said the ban was in accordance with section 12 of the new Information Services Act. 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