Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan has ordered the re-opening of media houses that were shut during the term of her predecessor, the late John Magufuli, a development that could lead to the thawing of hitherto soured relations between the authorities and journalists.
Speaking at State House in Tanzania on 6 April 2021, President Hassan said Tanzania would no longer be seen as a country that attacks the press and curtails media freedom.
“Ministry of information, I hear some media houses have been shut,” she was quoted as saying. “The online TVs, open them, but let them follow the law and government directives.
“Let’s not give them a voice to say we have stepped on press freedom. Let’s not shut them down in a tyrannical manner.”
This is a massive departure from her predecessor, under whose reign media houses were suspended from operating regularly.
MISA Zimbabwe position
MISA Zimbabwe welcomes the position taken by President Hassan as it signposts a change in attitudes regarding media freedom and freedom of expression.
Tanzania had slipped in all media freedom indices as media houses were shut with alarming regularity.
We urge President Hassan to follow through on this pledge and improve Tanzania’s media freedom environment which was on an alarming and steep decline.
MISA Zimbabwe hopes that this marks the beginning of a free and vibrant Tanzanian media that can effectively play its watchdog role as the ‘fourth estate’.