Media business is slowly shutting down in East Africa country Tanzania after a rather ruthless legal action was taken by their Premier to ensure that journalistic ethics were looked into seriously. A number of media are on the watch following the national alarm sounded by the President.
The action is coming on the heels of the warning by President John Magufuli earlier in the year that the days of newspapers his government viewed as unethical were numbered.
Hassan Abbasi, the Director-General of the state-run Tanzania Information Services, said in a statement that Raia Mwema, a weekly newspaper, had been banned from publishing for 90 days, beginning on Friday.
“The independently-owned outlet was suspended, he said, after publishing an article this week saying Magufuli was destined to fail in his job and in which it attributed “fabricated” statements to the president.
“The government issued a lenient punishment despite the gravity of the offence because the editors admitted their mistake,’’ he said. 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, nicknamed “The Bulldozer” for his forceful leadership style, has won some praise from Western donors for his anti-corruption drive and for cutting wasteful public spending.
However, opponents accused him of increasingly undermining democracy by curbing dissent and stifling free speech.
The President on the other side has made a number of achievements. Surprise visits of government offices have become a trademark, meant to project his looming presence and to instill discipline and accountability, that he made in his early years at the helm.
But perhaps his most effective stunt yet was leading the country in cleaning the streets on independence day, 9 December.
He moved on to attract admiration for following through his campaign promises to change “business as usual” in Tanzania. A recent poll recorded that he had a 96% approval rating.
More importantly, Mr Magufuli was posed to winning the prestigious Forbes Africa person of the year award 2016 after he had been nominated for “boosting Tanzania’s economy”.