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-  Surface area: 945,090 sq. km.
-  Population: 35,119,000
-  Languages: Swahili (national), English
-  Type of State: republic, union of Zanzibar and Tanganyika

Tanzania - Annual report 2002

Press freedom functions at two levels in Tanzania: whereas the major English-language dailies are able to work freely, publications in Swahili have far more obstacles to overcome. Pressure on journalists by the Zanzibar authorities, which in recent years refused all criticism, eased off during the year.

The authorities made several encouraging declarations in 2001. On 3 May the semi-autonomous Zanzibar government undertook to maintain press freedom on the island. "No newspaper will be banned in Zanzibar and no journalist will be harassed", announced Salim Juma, information minister in the regional government. He nevertheless reminded journalists to be more responsible about what they said and to adhere to a code of ethics. Journalists, who find it hard to forget the countless attacks on press freedom in the past, have called on the authorities to abrogate certain liberticidal laws as proof of their good will.

In September the chief inspector of the Tanzanian police said that an official who does not wish to cooperate with journalists is not fit for a position of authority. This statement was made a few days after local police in northern Tanzania arrested eight journalists. "It is important that public officials provide reliable information to journalists. On the other hand, journalists must report correctly after carrying out their investigations", he added.

Several special correspondents have complained about the conditions set by the interior ministry for work in refugee camps in the west of the country. For example, photographers and television crews have to pay a tax of 500 dollars (about 560 euros) and press journalists a tax of 200 dollars (about 220 euros).

Eleven journalists arrested

On 30 August 2001 George Marando from the channel ITV, Athuman Hamis and Said Msonda from the newspaper Nipashe, Cassian Malima of Mtanzania, Florian Kaijage from the channel DTV, Deus Ngowi from Mwananchi, and freelance journalists Samson Chacha and Hamad Kitumbo were arrested by police on their way to a village in the northern region of Mara where inter-ethnic clashes had broken out. The eight journalists were released about ten hours later. Three days before that, three other journalists - Richard Mganda with the daily The East African, Dismas Ayukile from Majira, and Erick Nampesya with the BBC - had also been arrested when they tried to cover the fighting.

Pressure and obstruction

During a press conference on 24 July 2001 the information minister, Omar Ramadhani Mapuri, announced that the following magazines in Swahili were banned: Mama Huruma, Tafrani, Chachandu, Mizengwe, Kula Vitu, Penzi Kikohozi, Uroda kwa Foleni and Simulizi Kutoka Chumbani. The newspapers Cheko and Zungu were suspended for six months and Kombora for one year. All were accused of publishing "texts and photographs of unclothed women which encourage promiscuity". The minister explained that these publications ran counter to "the government’s efforts to fight against the fatal Aids virus". All local professional organisations denounced this "draconian and negative measure against freedom of the press and expression which are the cornerstones of a democratic and tolerant society".

A bomb exploded on 9 August at the home of Henry Muhanika, former managing editor of the daily The East African. The journalist, his wife and his daughter were slightly injured. The reasons for this attack were unknown and the police opened an inquiry.

Thobias Mwanakatwe, journalist with the privately-owned agency Press Services of Tanzania (PST), was summoned on 28 August to appear before a security committee in the north-eastern Tanga region. The agency had published an article stating that a foreign businessman had cancelled plans to invest in the region under pressure from the government. Members of the committee asked the journalist to reveal the name of the entrepreneur in question.

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see also
Annual report 2002

Hard times for press freedom
Asia annual report 2002
Americas annual report 2002
Europe annual report 2002
Maghreb / Middle-East annual report 2002