Monday 20.3.2017 in Latest Developments in Tanzania Country Page
On 16th March 2017, the High Court in Arusha dismissed two lawyers' petitions to suspend elections to the Tanganyika Law Society's Council. There was genuine concern among legal professionals and the Society's members that the petitions were politically-motivated, as the government had previously threatened to disband the Society, accusing it of being "too political". In addition, the participation in the elections of people like Tundu Lissu, an opposition MP, lawyer and member of the Society, may have caused the current party in power some concern. The High Court's intervention and ruling in this case, however, serves to protect the Society's independence and guarantee its members the right to operate their organisation without government interference.
In February 2017, two journalists were detained in the Arumeru District for a reported "failure to properly introduce themselves to local authorities". At the time, the two journalists, Doreen Aloyse of Sunrise Radio and Mr Bahati Chume of the Mwananchi newspaper, were visiting a village to investigate the issue of a quarry mine's impact on village life. The two journalists were later released without charge.
As reported in The Citizen, Regional Police Commander Charles Mkumbo said:
"It appears some local people were suspicious of [the journalists] and reported the matter to the police who rushed to the village to arrest them".
This and other such cases have raised concern among human rights and media activists in Tanzania who have "[condemned] the government over its suppression of opposition parties and media's role in championing press freedom and freedom of expression".
In comments to the online news portal, The Citizen, Paul Malimbo of the Media Council of Tanzania declared firmly:
"Without freedom of expression there is no democracy".