Glimmer of hope for more press freedom?

Could better days be ahead for Tanzania's press? Photo: Daniel Hayduk

Could better days be ahead for Tanzania’s press? Photo: Daniel Hayduk

After the newspaper ban and implementation of ‘draconian’ laws in 2015, could better days be ahead for Tanzania’s press?

Minister of Information Nape Nnauye has promised amendments to the cybercrimes law and review of other laws used to impede journalist’s freedoms.

The minister, who is also Secretary for Ideology and Publicity for ruling party CCM, made the remarks while speaking at a commemorative event for World Press Freedom Day, May 3.

“Citizens are supportive freedom of information, with 91 percent stating that the government should have to defend any ban on newspapers in court,” says a report released by Twaweza in April.

The Twaweza report also shows that 78 percent of people believe free access to information would cut down corruption and other wrongdoings.

“Tanzania has a history of violence against journalists. Two reporters have been killed since 2012, and dozens more have been attacked or threatened,” says watchdog organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF.)

The statistics bill and cybercrimes law make it illegal to publish any data not approved by the government, or post information online which the government deems deceptive, misleading or inaccurate.

The Newspaper Act of 1976 also gives the government sweeping powers over media.

Despite the laws and crackdowns, Tanzania is still the best country in East Africa for press freedoms, moving up four positions to 71st place in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

Almost traditionally, the top five positions of the report are dominated by the Scandinavian countries with Finland occupying the first position, for the sixth year in a row.

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About the Author

Daniel Hayduk
Daniel is Dar Post's news director. When not in the newsroom, he spends his days helping NGOs across the continent find their creative side.