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 →
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? *
Nipashe, 25/3/15 – “Media Bills” under tight security
By Aidan Eyakuze and Ben Taylor *
At first we were excited. Tanzanian media and freedom of information advocates had been waiting for years for the Access to Information (ATI) and Media Services Bill, and the timetable for the latest parliamentary session included both. Were things finally moving?
The timetable also had bills on Statistics and Cybercrime. Was President Kikwete trying to push through a series of new laws before his time in office comes to an end later this year? He has played a leading role on the global stage on these issues, particularly through the Open Government Partnership (OGP), so perhaps this was an attempt to enshrine open government as his legacy.
Then we were concerned. Why were the ATI and Media Bills not available on the bunge website? Why were they being rushed through under certificates of urgency, severely limiting opportunities for consultation and debate? Continue reading →
It’s a tiny little thing, just 2.5cm long, 1.5cm wide and a millimeter thick. And yet it has found itself at the centre of a political storm in Tanzania. I’m talking, of course, about mobile phone sim cards.*
In case you missed it, the Tanzanian budget, passed last month by parliament, included provision for some new taxes, most notably a tax on mobile phone sim cards. It’s set at TZS 1,000/- (around $0.60) per month. And it’s in a mess. Continue reading →
The Speaker of Parliament, Anne Makinda recently announced that come 2015 she won’t be standing again as MP for Njombe South. She blamed the recent failed attempt to increase MPs’ allowances for low morale among MPs generally, and indicated that this was her reason for stepping down.
In her remarks, made in Njombe town on Saturday Feb 25th, Makinda, who has been the local MP for 17 years, made the following comments (the original Swahili is posted below):
“And I say this with full emphasis: the perception of all people, including you who are here, when I walk is that they see me as money, when they hear I am speaker it’s worse. There’s nobody with more money than me. Nobody. Continue reading →
It seems I wasn’t entirely fair when I recently complained about the inaccuracy of a couple of photos circulating around Tanzania’s social media scene following the tragic MV Spice Islander disaster. The mainstream media has done no better.
First, a brief reminder. The photos below are not of the MV Spice Islander, but rather photos from previous ferry tragedies elsewhere in the world, and yet they were both posted widely on facebook, twitter and various blogs over the weekend of the disaster. For an explanation of where the photos were originally taken, see my earlier post.
Yes, the social media users I highlighted got it wrong, but then so did several mainstream media outlets, many of which have published the first of these photos in print and/or online. Continue reading →
The tragic events taking place in Zanzibar in the early hours of Saturday morning are a national disaster, and three days of mourning have rightly been declared. Our thoughts are with those who lost lives or lost loved ones. May their souls rest in peace.
The disaster raises questions about regulation of maritime transport and accountability, though it is too soon to reach firm conclusions on what went wrong and too soon to see whether people will be held to account.
But we can begin assessing how the media handled the 24 hours after the crisis broke.