Tanzania: Paper banned for two years, editor threatened
Tanzanian newspaper Mawio is facing a two-year ban after reporting on a misconduct investigation that implicates two former presidents.
Tanzania’s Information, Sports and Culture Minister, Harrison Mwakyembe, imposed the ban – which prevents the paper from printing papers and publishing online – on Thursday. The paper’s editor-in-chief says he has since received threatening phone calls from anonymous sources.
Harrison Mwakyembe cited Article 59 of the Media Services Act as he announced the ban. This gives authorities the vague powers to “prohibit or otherwise sanction the publication of any content that jeopardises national security or public safety.”
However, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is highly critical of the information minister’s justification and the length of ban imposed.
“We are extremely concerned that Tanzania is using public order as an excuse to frustrate the flow of information and public debate,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator, Angela Quintal. “A two-year ban is tantamount to closing the publication. We urge the government to let Mawio resume operations and to stop stifling critical voices.”
Speaking to AFP, Mawio editor-in-chief Simon Mkina says he has received multiple threats since the ban was imposed.
“One of them, a male voice, asked me if I attached any value to my life,” he told the publication. However, Mkina insists he plans to go to court to challenge the suspension placed against Mawio.
The paper was previously banned in December 2015 for its coverage of political violence in Zanzibar, following elections. That ban was later overturned by the courts and Mkina is hoping for a similar outcome with this latest ban against the publication.
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