Tanzania cracks down on media

Fourth newspaper ban in Tanzania in less than a year.

The Tanzanian government has ordered a three-month suspension of a tabloid newspaper Tanzania Daima on charges of publishing false information.

The opposition-leaning newspaper has been penalised over a 22 October article claiming that 67 per cent of Tanzanians were on antiretroviral medication to treat HIV and AIDS.

In recent weeks the government has banned the Swahili-language independent weekly MwanaHalisi for two years, on grounds that it was inciting violence, and the weekly tabloid Raia Mwema for three months over fake news allegations.

In June the Tanzanian government issued a two-year ban to the independent Mawio newspaper after it published stories linking two former presidents to alleged improprieties in mining deals signed in the 1990s and early 2000s.

In 2015 MwanaHalisi returned to print, a month before the country's October general elections, after the courts overturned a government decision to suspend it "indefinitely", using sweeping powers contained in the country's notorious Newspaper Act. The newspaper's forced closure in 2012 followed a series of articles accusing the government of involvement in a brutal attack against a leader of doctors' strikes in the country.

In January this year the nation's president John Magufuli said that the days of "unethical newspapers" were numbered, interpreted by many as a move to stifle free speech. Critics say the latest newspaper ban is proof of the government's ongoing crackdown on press freedom.