Tag Archives: media freedoms

Dear Chambi: don’t stop blogging, your voice is needed

from Nipashe, Dec 1, 2016

Dear Chambi,

I hope you don’t mind me writing you a public letter like this. But it feels like the most appropriate way of saying what I want to say.

Because your decision to stop blogging has left me dejected. While I don’t always agree with what you say (I usually do), yours has been one of very few voices asking important but difficult questions. Those who find #UhuruWaKujieleza (freedom of speech) to be an annoyance (or, if we are charitable, an unaffordable luxury,) will be celebrating. We are all worse off as a result. Continue reading

dot-com, dot-org or dot-tz? What does Tanzanian law say?

Maxence Melo charge sheet #3

The recent arrest of digital media entrepreneur Maxence Melo of JamiiForums.com raises serious questions and concerns about freedom of speech, but one relatively minor aspect of the case has potentially serious implications for a lot of people.

Among the charges laid against Melo was “management of a domain not registered in Tanzania.” This took observers by surprise; even many close followers of media and technology issues in Tanzania were unaware that it is now apparently illegal to operate a website that does not use a dot-tz domain. The relevant laws have actually been in place since 2011, however, and the government posted a notice in the press last year calling on people to adhere to it.

But since it has now come to wider attention, it’s worth asking some questions. In particular, what exactly does the law say? And more pertinently, should you be concerned if you manage a domain other than something.tz? *

Continue reading

Mwangosi verdict leaves a lot of questions, and a bitter taste

Mwangosi

A court in Iringa today sentenced police officer Pacifius Simon to 15 years imprisonment for the manslaughter of journalist Daud Mwangosi in September 2012. In one sense, this brings the case to a close. But it is a very unsatisfactory ending. Continue reading

Chart #40: What do Tanzanians think of media freedoms?

As usual, the latest release of Afrobarometer 2014 data and analysis on Tanzania has some very interesting findings. For advocates of media freedoms, it doesn’t make for very comfortable reading. And in a context where newspapers can (and have been) closed down, and where there are new restraints on space for public debate, this matters.

First, two charts that show a decline in support in Tanzania for having an independent and critical media since previous surveys in 2008 and 2012: Continue reading

Three (government) statistics that could be illegal under Tanzania’s new Statistics Act

Updated 11/4/15, with responses from the Big Results Now team and the Ministry of Water – see below.

Justin Sandefur of the Centre for Global Development (CGD), writing in the Washington Post, presented five charts that may soon be illegal in Tanzania. He was referring to the Statistics Act, recently passed by the Tanzanian parliament, which makes it a criminal offence to publish false statistics, or statistics “that may result in the distortion of facts.”. This is punishable by a minimum 10m/- ($6,000) fine and/or a minimum 3 year prison sentence.

Here, I have done something similar. But I only refer to statistics produced or cited by the Tanzanian government itself.

My purpose is not to accuse any particular part of the government of deliberately misleading people, but instead to point out some of the difficulties of making it an offence to publish false or distorting statistics. Continue reading

Access to Information bill to be fast-tracked through Tanzanian parliament

Tz map flag FOI

UPDATE, 28/3/15:

Following concerted lobbying by a coalition of media and civil society organisations, (including my employers, Twaweza), the government has dropped plans to fast-track the Access to Information and Media Services Bills. The bills may yet be presented to parliament in the current session for first reading, but the Attorney General, George Masaju, has promised that stakeholders will be given time to read and comment on the bill. 


 

Tanzania’s long-awaited Access to Information bill – promised by President Kikwete 18 months ago and included the current Open Government action plan – may be about to become a reality, though in far from ideal circumstances.

The Tanzanian government announced late last week that six bills*, including the Access to Information Bill, will be rushed through parliament over the next two weeks, under a “certificate of urgency” (hati ya dharura). This allows all three stages of the bill to be conducted in a single session: introducing the bill to the house (first reading), debate (second reading) and a vote (third reading).  Continue reading

Tanzania bans another newspaper

The Citizen, 27/01/15

The Citizen, 27/01/15

Once again, the Tanzanian government has banned a newspaper. In late 2013, Mtanzania was suspended for 90 days and Mwananchi for 14. In June 2012 it was MwanaHalisi, which remains suspended to this day. This time it is The East African, a highly respected regional paper.

The East African’s readership in Tanzania is low in numbers, but significant for who they are: the country’s business and political elites. It is seen as a thorough and dependable source of news on financial matters and regional politics in particular. It’s also part of the same media group (NMG/MCL) as two major and respected Tanzanian newspapers: The Citizen and Mwananchi.

We’re unlikely to see the outcry that followed suspension of Mwananchi in 2013. Most Tanzanians – even newspaper readers – won’t notice, with cabinet resignations and reshuffles dominating the news agenda. But it stands, once again, in stark contrast to the government’s stated commitment to open government and freedom of information.  Continue reading