Following the recent ban of Radio Five and Magic FM stations in Tanzania, the Committee to Protect Journalists has issued a statement calling for Tanzanian authorities to immediately lift the ban and allow them to resume broadcasting without further harassment or censorship.
On Aug. 29 the two stations were told to cease broadcasting immediately by Tanzanian Information Minister Nape Nnauye for what he described as “seditious” material that could incite the public and disturb the peace. Both stations complied with the order.
The alleged seditious content was broadcast during Magic FM’s morning show and Radio Five’s evening program. No specific statement was cited as what provoked the ban, but one of the journalists at the station told CPJ on anonymity that he suspected it was callers who criticized a ban on political rallies that was imposed in June.
“We are very concerned by this action,” said Neville Meena, secretary of the Tanzanian Editors Forum. “The minister presented no evidence, and did not elaborate on what content in the stations he found seditious. This just goes to show that the current government, which has not even been in office for a year, is too sensitive to criticism and is seeking to close the space media enjoyed in the past.”
Since the current Tanzanian government took office in October 2015, led by President John Pombe Magufuli, CPJ reports that the weekly newspaper Mawio has been shut down, halted live transmission of parliamentary debates in April, and closed the Mseto newspaper for three years on Aug. 11. CPJ also says that other newspapers have been taken off the streets for “licensing violations.”
Tanzanian government spokesman Hassan Abbas told CPJ that the Magufuli administration is not trying to muzzle the government, but followed the law on each of these decisions. “Journalists need to understand that there are limits to media freedom. You can’t just defame a president and get away with it.”
Abbas said a regulatory committee would make a decision on both radio stations in a special meeting, but did not mention when this may occur.