Victory for press freedom in Tanzania, but the DRC bans a newspaper

Samia Suluhu Hassan is sworn in as the new President of Tanzania.

Images Reuters/Stringer/Gallo

  • A banned newspaper was finally allowed by the government to return five years later to Tanzania.
  • CPJ called on the DRC to end the six-month ban on a newspaper that had criticized the state.
  • CPJ wants the Nigerian government to comply with a court order ordering it to compensate a journalist wrongfully imprisoned for six months in 2019.

A newspaper banned in Tanzania five years ago has been allowed to publish again, while in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), another newspaper has been suspended for the next six months.

Mawio, a leading Tanzanian newspaper, was shelved in 2017 after authorities accused it of ‘endangering national security’ when it published a series of articles about two former heads of state – the late Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete – linking them to corruption in the country. mining industry.

Under the late John Magufuli, the ban was supposed to last two years, but although the courts ruled the ban irrational, it took another three years for the paper to be allowed to return.

In an interview with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Simon Mkina, who was the newspaper’s publisher and editor at the time, said their return would require investment.

He said:

It will take time for Mawio to get back into publishing, as it needs huge capital. We have to start over. We need a printing budget of more than 690,000 rand (100 million Tanzanian shillings or 43,300 US dollars) for a few months before the newspaper is financially self-sufficient and generates revenue. We need equipment and to hire the team. So there is a lot of work to be done. We have already started to do some of this work; looking for a team and new offices.

Mawio was not the only newspaper banned under Magafuli – MwanaHALISI, Mseto and Tanzania Daima had also been allowed to publish again.

Mkina sees the decision of Tanzania’s sixth and first female president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, to lift the ban as a way to steer the country away from the “dark age of media freedom“.

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Meanwhile, in the DRC, its media regulator, the Superior Council for Freedom of Communication (CSLC), suspended Sel-Piment for six months in January for its republication of an article from a website run by critics. of the government in exile.

In December, police arrested Augias Ray Malonga, the newspaper’s acting editor, for seven days without charge.

After a three-month ban, Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, called on authorities to “immediately lift the suspension of Sel-Piment and refrain from arresting journalists for their work.”

She added, “Journalists should be free to republish and report on matters of public interest without fear of detention or punishment.”

On Monday, a federal court acquitted Nigerian journalist Agba Jalingo of anti-state and defamation charges nearly three years after indicting him.

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Jalingo was first detained for six months in August 2019.

CPJ said in a statement that the government should compensate him for what he endured while incarcerated.

“Nigerian authorities should compensate Jalingo for his mistreatment, in accordance with a 2021 regional court ruling, and ensure that journalism is not criminalized and that media outlets can report freely,” said CPJ.

Jalingo was arrested on August 22, 2019, and charged for his writings and social media posts regarding Cross River State Governor Benedict Ayade.

In July 2021, the ECOWAS Court of Justice, a regional court in West Africa, ordered the Nigerian government to compensate Jalingo for his prolonged detention and mistreatment in custody.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced by the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained therein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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