DAR ES SALAAM Jan 13 Tanzanian President John
Magufuli said on Friday the "days were numbered" for newspapers
deemed to incite dissent, comments that will add to opposition
concern that his government is further narrowing the space for
Magufuli, nicknamed "the bulldozer" for pushing through his
policies, has won some praise from Western donors for an
anti-corruption drive and cutting wasteful public spending, but
opponents accuse him of increasingly undermining democracy by
curbing dissent and stifling free speech.
The government declared opposition protest illegal last
year. Some privately-owned newspapers have published articles
criticising Magufuli's handling of the economy and some
"We will not allow Tanzania to be a dumpyard for inciting
(newspaper) content. This will not happen under my
administration," Magufuli told a rally in the northwestern town
He accused two newspapers, which he did not name, of seeking
to cause trouble. "Whenever you read them, they are full of
inciting content ... their days are numbered," he said.
Government officials said he was likely referring to one
English daily and another Swahili daily owned by a
privately-owned media organisation. Both newspapers have
published some critical articles on the government's policies.
The president in November signed into law a bill that
journalists said was aimed at muzzling freedom of the press.
The Media Services Act of 2016 gives officials powers to
shut down media organisations that violate their licences by
confiscating printing machines.
Tanzania last month charged the co-founder of a website
where people can post comments about officials they believe are
Maxence Melo Mubyazi, 40, managing director and co-founder
of jamiiforums website, was charged with multiple counts of
obstructing justice and running an unregistered website.
The rights group, the Committee to Protect Journalists, said
this week Tanzania should investigate corruption allegations
instead of "pressurising a website to violate its users' trust
The East African country enacted a tough cyber crimes law in
2015 under which several people have been prosecuted for
violations including insulting the president, punishable by up
to three years in jail.
Rights activists have criticised the law and the United
States cancelled nearly $500 million of funding for the country
to express its disapproval.
(Reporting by Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala; Editing by Janet Lawrence)