VIJAY SHAH via RSF/IFEX
The government of Tanzania has been accused of infringing press freedoms and stifling opposition voices in the East African country after the national communications and media regulator imposed fines on a group of television stations critical of the president, Reporters without Borders and press freedom NGO IFEX claimed recently.
Tanzania’s Communication Regulatory Authority imposed fines of over TZS Sh. 7,579,000 (Tanzanian shillings), or GBP £2,670, on three online TV stations, namely Kwanza TV, Millard Ayo TV and Watetezi TV, at the end of September. Kwanza TV was also forced offline for six months. All three stations are critical of the rule of Tanzania’s president John Joseph Magufuli, who has been in charge of the country since 2015.
The Communication Regulatory Authority said the sanctions were imposed as the three stations had failed to publish compulsory editorial policy statements and charters, and Kwanza was additionally cited for misleading publication. All three allegedly fell foul of a media law made in 2018 that affects online broadcasters and bloggers. Critics of that law claims it breaches universal press freedoms and that it will be fatal to Tanzania’s blogosphere and online news publishing industry. All online publishers in the country have to pay steep registration fees on an annual basis, according to the law.
At least two journalists in Tanzania have also been detained by the government, which has been accused of becoming more autocratic in its dealings with the national press since Magufuli was elected. Arnaud Froger, the head of African affairs for Reporters without Borders, said: “Silence or persecution seems to be the only alternative for media outlets and journalists that want to exercise a critical role in Tanzania,”
“No other country in the world has experienced such a drastic decline in press freedom in the past four years. We urge the Tanzanian authorities to come to their senses and, as a first step, to rescind the sanctions on these three online TV channels…”
Tanzania is ranked 118th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index after falling 47 places since 2016, more than any other country in the world during the same period.
HEM Journalism Portal, HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-journalism-portal
IFEX, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/IFEX
“Fined: 3 online TV channels critical of Tanzanian president” – Reporters Without Borders (RSF) via IFEX (3 October 2019) https://ifex.org/fined-3-online-tv-channels-critical-of-tanzanian-president/