The media crackdown in Tanzania has become quite intense as the third newspaper since June has been shut down. The government viewed the newspaper as unethical and had the discretion to shut it down.
It is being reported that quite a number of newspapers in Tanzania, those in the private media, are now being viewed as unethical and many risk closure or suspension. The Director-General of the state-run Tanzania Information Services, Hassan Abbasi, said in a statement that a weekly newspaper, Raia Mwema, had been banned from publishing for 90 days, beginning on Friday.
The newspaper carried an article that read that president John Magufuli was destined to fail his job, and the government has alleged that the article carried "fabricated statements" attributed towards the president. “The government ... issued a lenient punishment despite the gravity of the offense because the editors admitted their mistake,” the Director-General said.
The media crackdown in Tanzania has been on the rampage, and press freedom has become constricted in the East-African country. Many view these moves as draconian attempts to cow the media into submission so that they do not report on where the government is failing. Others, especially those with links to Government or who are in Government see these moves as reasonable and necessary in order to cultivate ethical ways of reporting in the private media.
There has been a general feeling that even though John Magufuli has distinguished himself from his predecessors in being pragmatic, his approach however is quite advanced in an authoritarian manner. Opponents are accusing him of undermining the tenets of democracy by stifling dissent and free speech as noticed in his crackdown on the media. Tanzania suspended publication of the weekly MwanaHalisi newspaper for 24 months on Sept. 20 and banned another newspaper, Mawio, in June for a similar period.
Magufuli, who is nicknamed the "Bulldozer" for his forceful leadership of style has found some favour with the Western powers, but his authoritarian streak has the potential of blighting his legacy.