Tanzania: President fires minister over press freedom row, sends warning shot to media

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Tanzanian President John Magufuli warned the country’s media organisations to “be careful” on Friday after sacking a minister for defending press freedom.

On Thursday, Magufuli fired Information Minister Nape Nnauye, who ordered an inquiry into one of the president’s allies for attempting to force a media company to broadcast a story involving a political rival. The following day Magufuli fired a warning shot to the media over what he called “inflammatory” reporting.

 

‘Be careful’

On Friday, President Magufuli delivered one of his most condemning speeches towards media outlets since he came into office in 2015.

“Media owners, let me tell you: Be careful. Watch it,” he told the press in Dar es Salaam. “If you think you have that kind of freedom – not to that extent.”

Magufuli has earned himself a reputation as an authoritarian among critics after shutting down various newspapers, banning opposition rallies, stopping live broadcasts of parliamentary sessions and introducing a wave of “cybercrime” laws.

 

Information minister sacked

Magufuli sacked Nape Nnauye after the minister ordered an investigation into Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Paul Makonda. Makonda was found to have stormed the offices of Clouds FM Media Group with armed men, demanding they air a video implicating a local pastor.

On Wednesday, the probe revealed Makonda threatened the station’s staff with jail time if they didn’t air the video.

However, the presidency on Thursday released a statement announcing the appointment of a new information minister and Magufuli reassured Makonda over the scandal.

“I, as president, don’t let anyone tell me what to do. I decide who should be where. So you Makonda, do your job and ignore the rest,” the president said.

 

Featured image: YouTube

 

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.