Magufuli under fire for ‘muzzling Tanzania media’


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Tanzania President John Magufuli at a past event. /FILE

Tanzania President John Magufuli has come under sharp criticism for his attempts to muzzle the media following the closure of two FM stations.

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), in a statement, said Magufuli’s administration “must immediately lift the ban on Radio Five and Magic FM – privately owned stations.

“The government must allow them to resume broadcasts without harassment or censorship,” Murithi Mutiga, CPJ East Africa representative, said.

Tanzania information minister Nape Nnauye on August 29 told a press conference in Dar es Salaam that he had ordered the stations closed after they broadcast seditious material.

The government’s argument is that the content could incite the public and disturb the peace.

According to the minister, Magic FM aired content that had the potential to cause a breakdown in law and order on its August 17 morning show, Morning Magic.

He said that Radio Five broadcast seditious content on its evening program, Matukio.

But CPJ says they are yet to discern how a morning radio show could cause a breakdown in law and order.

“It is crystal clear that the government is trying to stop the flow of information and commentary,” Mutiga said.

“We call on the government to allow Radio Five and Magic FM to resume broadcasting immediately, and to stop attempting to silence critical voices,” the committee said.

The media practitioners’ body feels that steps taken by Magufuli’s government, which came into office in October 2015, are aimed at restricting Tanzania’s media environment.

In January 2016, Magufuli’s administration closed the weekly newspaper Mawio, after it reported on a political crisis in the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, where results of elections which the opposition claimed to have won were annulled

In April, authorities halted live transmission of Parliamentary debates, a vital platform that opposition parliamentarians use to communicate with the public.

Mseto, a nother newspaper, was closed for three years on August 11 after publishing an article quoting a former minister accusing Magufuli of corruption.

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