Crackdown on newspapers and TV stations publicising critical views continues

Expression

On 24th October 2017, the Tanzanian government suspended another newspaper - the Swahili-language Tanzania Daima - for a period of 90 days, due to allegations of publishing false news. This was the fourth newspaper banned in 2017: Mwanahalisi was banned for 24 months in September 2017; the weekly Raia Mwema for 90 days in September; and Mawio newspaper for 24 months in June 2017

On 2nd January 2017, Tanzania's Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) fined five television stations between Tsh 7.5 million (3,330 USD) and Tsh 15 million (6,660 USD) for broadcasting “offensive and unethical” content, in particular, for airing a press statement issued on 30th November by the Legal Human Rights Centre (LHRC). The LHRC is a civil society organisation, and in its press statement highlighted major human rights violations during the 26th November 2017 elections of councillors in 43 wards. Documented violations included detentions, intimidation and physical abuse. The TV stations that featured the LHRC's press statement and were subsequently penalised include: Star TV, Azam Two, East Africa TV, Channel 10 and ITV. 

In a statement issued on 10th December, the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) and media stakeholders, such as the Media Council of Tanzania, expressed their concern over the fate of Mwananchi Communications Limited journalist Azory Gwanda, who disappeared on 21st November near his workplace in Kibiti. Prior to his disappearance, Gwanda allegedly wrote several articles on local administrative officials and police officers being murdered by unknown perpetrators on motorcycles. In regards to the incidents reported by Gwanda and the journalist's disappearance, Onesmo Olengurumwa of THRDC told The Citizen that: 

"Some advocates, journalists, politicians and artists have already been reported to have gone missing as from whom there were those who found brutally injured. Others are still missing to this day".

On 15th November 2017, the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar Es Salaam sentenced Bob Chacha Wangwe to 1,5 years in prison or a fine of five million Tsh (2,215 USD) on charges of "publication of false information" under the 2015 Cybercrimes Act. The charges stemmed from comments on Facebook regarding the procedural issues during the 2015 elections in Zanzibar. Chacha Wangwe is the Director of the Law Department of the Tanzania Students' Networking Programme. 

Association

On 2nd November 2017, the Kishapu District Court acquitted Bibiana Mushi and Nicholas Ngelela Luhende of the charges of Disobedience of Statutory Duty under Section 123 of the Penal Code. As reported previously on the Monitor, both were arrested on 12th July 2017 while conducting a capacity building workshop for local officials serving regions with a high prevalence of extractive industries. 

Tanzania is currently on the Monitor Watch List of countries where there is an urgent, immediate and developing threat to civic space.