Sources and Reference on the Closure of Mwananchi and Mtanzania newspapers

“The Government Official Blog” posted earlier today an announcement that Mwananchi and Mtanzania newspapers have been closed down by the government, Mwananchi for 14 days and Mtanzania for 90 days. I have also posted an (unofficial) English translation of this statement.

I will post some analysis of this move very shortly. But first, here is a list of sources of information and commentary on the case, which I will try to keep up to date over the next few days (and beyond).

If you see anything that I have not listed, please add it in the comments below, or send it to me on Twitter (@mtega).

Saturday 28 September

First, the official announcement from Habari-Maelezo (the department of Information Services).

Initial commentary from Zitto Kabwe on facebook:

“Serikali lazima ijutie uamuzi huu wa kibabe na kidikteta. Kama hupendi habari ya gazeti nenda mahakamani. Kufungia gazeti ni tendo la woga. Cowards behave this way.”

(“The government must regret this draconian and dictatorial decision. If you don’t like the news in a paper go to court. To close a paper is an act of fear. Cowards behave this way.”)

Also from Zitto, on Twitter:

Mwana Mpotevu on Jamii Forums: Kufungiwa Mwananchi na Mtanzania: Fundisho stahiki kwa Jukwaa la Wahariri (Editors’ Forum)

Also on Jamii Forums, a quote from Absalom Kibanda (the editor of Mtanzania, who was brutally attacked a few months ago in very suspicious circumstances):

“I am ready for anything hii serikali ni ya kidikteta”

And some reaction in the JF comments on the government statement.

The articles cited in the official government statement as the cause of the problem:

Mwananchi:

Mtanzania:

And some of the front pages:

Sunday 29 September

The Citizen: “Govt shuts down Mwananchi, Mtanzania for “provoking hostility”“, including another unofficial translation of the government statement.
Mwananchi!!!!: “Serikali yaifungia magazeti ya Mwananchi, Mtanzania”

(Interesting to note that Mwananchi is not interpreting the ban as including online publication. In addition to the brief piece linked above, they have also uploaded a new set of articles dated 29/9/13.)

Mtanzania / Rai: “Serikali yafungia Mtanzania, Mwananchi”

(Mtanzania website carries this story, and several others, as normal. However, they appear to have been published in print in Rai, Mtanzania’s sister-paper.)

Other papers:

Absalom Kibanda interviewed on Magic FM

Social media:

  • Maggid Mjengwa on Facebook: “Ni matumaini yangu, kuwa huko twendako, mapungufu yanayojitokeza katika tasnia ya habari yatakuwa, kwa njia ya mazungumzo ya mezani, yakipatiwa ufumbuzi na pande zinazohusika bila kufikia hatua za kuvifungia vyombo vya habari”

Public Statements

Monday 30 September

Collection of frontpages, via Mjengwa

Note how the story gets big frontpage headlines on the three independent papers here (Nipashe, Tanzania Daima and The Citizen), and nothing on the government- or CCM-owned papers (HabariLeo, Daily News, Uhuru):

Mwananchi: On facebook, “pamoja na kufungiwa hatutaacha kuwataarifu [online]”

The Citizen: “Mwananchi, Mtanzania ban draws tough reaction”

Jamii Forums: “Gazeti la RAI kutoka kila siku kwa muda wa siku 90”
J
amii Forums: “Tumefurahia Mtanzania kufungiwa”

Tanzania Daima: “Kufungiwa magazeti: Serikali yasutwa”

Nipashe: “Mshituko”

From Hussein Bashe, the Managing Director of New Habari Ltd, publishers of Mtanzania, an announcement that their weekly sister paper, Rai, will be published daily for the full 90 days of Mtanzania’s suspension. According to a post on JamiiForums, the Editor of Mtanzania, Absalom Kibanda, will take over editorship of RAI during this period:

Zitto Kabwe announces a private members bill calling for the Newspaper Act of 1976 to be repealed.

Tuesday 1 October

Mwananchi: “Asasi 50 zapinga Mwananchi, Mtanzania kufungiwa”
The Citizen: “Activists call for scrapping of repressive laws”

Tanzania Daima: “Serikali yazidi kuandamwa“; “Serikali itafakari upya ufungiaji magazeti
Jambo Leo: “Viongozi wacharuka magazeti kufungiwa”
Guardian: “Activists appeal for intervention against media bans”
Nipashe: “Wanaharakati walaani kufungiwa magazeti”
Majira: “Kufungwa magazeti: Hoja binafsi kutua bunge”

IMPORTANT UPDATE – Tuesday, 4pm (EAT) 

Taarifa ya Serikali ya kuzuia tovuti ya gazeti la Mwananchi kuchapisha habari:

The Department of Media/Information has issued a statement announcing that Mwananchi’s continued online publication is in contravention of the suspension of the paper, as is New Habari Ltd’s decision to turn RAI into a daily rather than weekly paper (thus using a sister-paper to fill the gap left by Mtanzania.) The full statement reads as follows:

“TAARIFA KWA VYOMBO VYA HABARI”

“Kama mnavyofahamu, Serikali imeyafungia magazeti ya Mtanzania na Mwananchi kwa kuzingatia Sheria ya Magazeti ya Mwaka 1976 na kanuni zake za mwaka 1977. Gazeti la Mwananchi limefungiwa kwa muda wiki mbili kuanzia tarehe 27 Septemba, 2013 na Gazeti la Mtanzania limefungiwa kwa muda wa miezi mitatu au siku 90 kuanzia tarehe 27 Septemba, 2013.”

“Aidha tunataka umma ufahamu kuwa Serikali haikukurupuka kufungia magazeti hayo. Uamuzi huo ulifanyika baada ya kufuata taratibu zote za msingi ikiwemo kuwasikiliza wahusika.”

“Hata hivyo, tumeona gazeti la Mwananchi baada ya kufungiwa limeendelea kuchapishwa kwenye mtandao wa Internet kinyume cha amri iliyotolewa. Kufanya hivyo ni kosa na Serikali tumewaandikia kuacha mara moja la sivyo, Serikali italazimika kuchukua hatua kali zaidi.”

“Aidha kampuni ya New Habari 2006 baada ya kufungiwa moja ya magazeti yake, imeanza kuchapisha gazeti la ‘Rai’ kila siku tangu tarehe 29 Septemba mwaka 2013 bila ya kibali cha Msajili wa Magazeti. Hilo nalo ni kosa, Serikali inawataka kuacha mara moja kuchapisha gazeti hilo kila siku na warudie ratiba yao ya kuchapisha mara moja kwa wiki mpaka hapo maamuzi mengine yatakapofanyika.”

“IMETOLEWA NA IDARA YA HABARI –MAELEZO, TAREHE 1/10/2013″

The law on online newspaper publication in Tanzania is very unclear (to say the least), so it is far from certain that this latest move by the government is legally valid.

Mwananchi editors announce – on facebook – that they will no longer publish online, for the duration of their suspension.

Reaction on Jamii Forums.

Wednesday 2 October

The Citizen: “Government now bans Mwananchi website”

The new look Mwananchi website welcome page:

from mwananchi.co.tz, 2/10/13

from mwananchi.co.tz, 2/10/13

There are no new news items on the Mtanzania website today, nor any sign of a new issue of Rai.

The Guardian: “Govt threatens more penalties against banned newspapers”, with some interesting quotes:

“For his part, New Habari Corporation 2006 Group Managing Editor Absalom Kibanda, expressed serious disappointment with the Director of Information Services’ statement.

“He said the decision to run ‘Rai’ on daily or weekly basis solely lay on the firm’s discretion since the Newspapers’’ Registrar gave the company permission to do so in 1994.

“‘We have the permission with us and in addition some few days ago we wrote the Information Services Department to inform them of our resolve to run the tabloid on daily basis,’ Kibanda said.”

“Kibanda: ‘we apologised on ‘Presidency through bloodshed’ story after we realised that there were some slip-ups in it.'”

Nipashe: “Serikali yayajia juu MWANANCHI, Rai”

After two days of ignoring protests and public statements against the closures, the two government papers spring into action to report the government’s latest statement:

Daily News: “Government warns banned tabloids over defiance”
HabariLeo: “Mwananchi, Rai “kila siku” waonywa”

Tanzania Daima gives the story very extensive coverage today:

Front page lead: “Serikali yazidi kuandama magazeti”
Editorial/Tahariri: “Serikali itumie busara kufungia magazeti”
M.M. Mwanakijiji: “Kufungia magazeti uthibitisho kushindwa kwa watawala”
“Ufungiaji wa magazeti na hoja ya Mwalimu”
“Sheria ya Magazeti: Waziri mlalamikaji, hakimu”
Bakari M. Mohamed: “Ukandamizaji uhuru wa habari ni udhalimu na unyang’anyi wa fikra”

Jambo Leo: “Serikali yazidi kulalamikia Mtanzania na Mwanachi”
Majira: “Mwananchi, Mtanzania waonywa”

Raia Mwema, a weekly paper published on Wednesdays, also has some interesting-looking articles:

Godfrey Dilunga: “Bunge linahusika kifungo cha Mwananchi, Mtanzania”
Godfrey Dilunga (Maoni ya Mharirir): “Tunasikitika pamoja na Mwananchi, Mtanzania”
Evarist Chahali: “Ukweli hautokomezwi kwa kuyafungia magazeti”
Paul Dotto: “Baada ya Mwananchi na Mtanzania, nani watafuata?”

On Jamii Forums, an interesting post arguing (correctly, I think) that the government has no legal basis for insisting that Mwananchi shut down its website: “Serikali (Maelezo) imekosea kuzuia Mwananchi Online”.

Thursday 3 October

The Citizen: “International bodies condemn ban” and an assertive cartoon:

The Citizen 3/10/13

The Citizen 3/10/13

The Guardian: “WAPC condemns government for closure of two newspapers”
Nipashe: “Hoja ya kufuta sheria ya magazeti yatinga bungeni”

Tanzania Daima:
“Lembeli aikaba Serikali ya CCM”
“Serikali itumie busara kufungia magazeti”
“Kwa hili nampongeza Filikunjombe”

Public statements:

International Federation of Journalists: “IFJ Raises Concerns About Deteriorating Situation of Press Freedom in Tanzania”
World Association of Press Councils: “WAPC condemns Tanzania government for closure of two newspapers” (via JamiiForums)
Media Council of Tanzania: “Media Council condemns closure of two major newspapers” and “MCT roundly condemns banning of Mwananchi, Mtanzania”

Chadema: “Kauli ya Chadema kuhusu kufungiwa kwa magazeti” (via Mjengwablog.com)

Friday 4 October

The Citizen: “America reacts over ban on newspapers” and “With an Eagle Eye: Press freedom and responsibility inseparable”. The Citizen also published a full page statement on page 4, responding to the ban on its Swahili sister, Mwananchi, which is well worth reading:

The Citizen, 4/10/13, page 4

The Citizen, 4/10/13, page 4 (click to enlarge)

The Guardian: “Editors want Newspaper Act fought in court”

Nipashe: “Jukwaa la Wahariri lapinga MWANANCHI, Mtanzania kufungiwa” and “Serikali yaandalia vyombo vya habari vifungo”

Tanzania Daima: “Mwananchi wanena, wahariri walaani”

Dkt. Hamisi Kigwangalla, MB. in Jamii Forums: “Kufungiwa kwa Magazeti ya Mwananchi na Mtanzania: tujifunze nini?”

Public Statement from International Press Institute: “IPI presses government to reverse action against three Swahili papers, revamp ‘odious’ Newspaper Act”

Saturday/Sunday 5-6 October

After being offline for three days, Mwananchi has now decided to re-start publishing on its website. Here’s their statement on Facebook.

Also in Mwananchi, several articles: “Serikali yazidi kuliliwa kwa kufungia magazeti”, “EU yalaani magazeti kufungwa, yataka haki ya kuhabarika ilindwe” and “Vyombo vya habari sasa kuminywa zaidi”

The Citizen: “EU criticises govt ban on ‘Mwananchi’, ‘Mtanzania’”, “Week of storm over media”, and a cartoon:

The Citizen 2/10/13

The Citizen 2/10/13

Mtanzania: “Afrika Kusini yaguswa kufungiwa Mtanzania, Mwananchi”, and RAI seems now to be going again:

RAI 6/10/13

RAI 6/10/13

The Guardian: “EU concerned over banning of newspapers” and “Can government teach everyone how to think?”

Daily News publishes a column arguing for changes to the 1976 Newspaper Act: “Newspapers suspension: who is to blame?”

Tanzania Daima: “Kufungiwa magazeti na athari zake kiuchumi”, “Vyombo vya habari vikinyamazishwa mawe yatapiga kelele”, and “Jinsi serikali ilivyo, ndivyo ilivyo!”

The East African: “Ban a rag here, beat up a hack there, that’s how to sneak censorship up on the public”, by Elsie Eyakuze, who also published a few extra remarks on her blog: “The Weekly Sneak: Medium Alert”.

And another of that paper’s columnists, Charles Onyango-Obbo: “The Curse Of Sisyphus: Why Democracy Isn’t Necessarily Good For Press Freedom In Africa”

A firm editorial column and cartoon in the Lutheran church paper, Upendo:

From South Africa – the Mail and Guardian: “Free media under siege in Tanzania”

And finally, Zitto Kabwe’s blogpost on submitting a Private Members Bill to parliament that would repeal the 1976 Newspaper Act: “Muswada binafsi kufuta Sheria ya Magazeti 1976”, and the text of his bill on Scribd.

Monday 7 October

Not much to add today. Just this cartoon from Nipashe:

Nipashe 7/10/13

Nipashe 7/10/13

Finally, more from Ndimara Tegambwage: “Government prompts rumour, sows fear”

Wednesday 9 October

Majira: “Moat yatoa tamko kujungiwa magazeti”

Tanzania Media owners, publishers and journalists’ bodies in the country have agreed not to cover any news event, publish statements or pictures of the Minister for Information, Fenella Mukangara, or the Director of Information, Assah Mwambene, in protest at the closure of Mwananchi and Mtanzania. More, from Tanzania Journalists Alliance.

Here’s the full statement from the coalition: “Azaki za habari Tanzania zatangaza adhabu kwa Mwambene na Waziri Mukangara”. The group includes the Media Owners’ Association of Tanzania (MOAT), Tanzania Editors’ Forum (TEF), MISA-Tan, the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), the Union of Tanzanian Press Clubs (UTPC), Dar City Press Club (DCPC) and Tanzania Human Rights Defenders (THRDC).

Thursday 10 October

Mwananchi: “Vyombo vya habari kutowaandika Mukangara, Mwambene”
The Citizen: “No more airplay: Tanzania media boycotts Mukangara” and “Government moves to toss out contentious media laws”
The Guardian: “Media stakeholders blacklist Dr Mukangara, Mwambene”
Tanzania Daima: “Waziri wa Habari, Mkurugenzi wafungiwa”
Mtanzania: “Waziri Mukangara, Mwambene matatani”
Majira: “Wadau wa habari wamfungia Dkt. Mkuangara, Mwambene”

Mwananchi announces / celebrates the end of its two-week-long suspension, on Facebook and on their website: “Mwananchi kuonja uhuru kesho”.

The Citizen reports on the same: “Almost free: Mwananchi ready to hit the streets tomorrow”.

As does the (international) AFP: “Independent Tanzania media boycott information minister”.

Friday 11 October

Mwananchi has started publishing again:

Mwananchi 11/10/13

Mwananchi 11/10/13

Two points of particular note here. First, Mwananchi have been a little mischievous in their calculation of 14 days. And second, look at the list of papers thanked at the bottom of the front page for supporting Mwananchi – it includes HabariLeo. This government-run paper, has repeatedly reported on government announcements regarding the suspensions, but has done almost nothing to justify their inclusion in this roll call. Another mischievous move?

Mwananchi: “Tumetoka kifungoni na hamasa kubwa”, “MCL yatoa shukrani kwa umma na wadau wake”, and “Yaliyoandikwa tukiwa kifungoni”.

The Citizen: “Top-selling ‘Mwananchi’ back on the newsstand”

Daily News: “Maintain professionalism, EU envoy tells scribes”

HabariLeo is the only paper to go against the independent media’s policy of not reporting on public statements by either the Minister or Director of Information: “Mtanzania, Mwananchi waonywa tena”

Zitto Kabwe’s latest status update on Facebook.

Finally, a remarkable statement from the Deputy Minister of Information, Amos Makalla, personally claiming credit for re-allowing Mwananchi to publish online and Rai to be published daily: “Napenda kuufahamisha umma kwamba mimi ndiye NILIYERUHUSU Gazeti la Mwananchi kuendelea na utoaji wa taarifa/habari kwenye tovuti yake, pia Gazeti la Rai kutoka kila siku.”

Saturday-Sunday 12-13 October

Mwananchi reports on this unusual state of affairs at the Ministry: “Sintofahamu Wizara ya Habari”.

The Citizen publishes something very similar: “Ministry issues conflicting statements over newspaper ban”. It also belatedly puts out Ndimara Tegambwage’s column criticising the suspensions: “Protect citizens’ rights, freedoms and business”.

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