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Tanzania press awaits media reforms from Magufuli

18 December 2015, 17:40Cindy Pierce

Dar es Salaam - Press officials in Tanzania have revealed that they are patiently waiting on media reforms to be implemented by President John Magufuli, CPJ.org has reported.

Tom Rhodes, an East Africa Representative for the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), disclosed that press in the country were waiting to see whether Magufuli would respond to calls for media reforms.

Journalists in the East African country have reported several incidents of intimidation while covering the recent elections in the country.

In July, it was reported that a freelance journalist had been slapped by an official from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party for allegedly protesting the lack of media access to an official meeting. 

In September, Peter Elias, a report for a private newspaper in the country, was barred from participating in a press entourage following Magufuli, with the reason being that he had reported unfavourably on politicians within the State.

Waiting game

While journalists had reported to not physically being targeted by authorities, they felt pressured by anti-press laws and electoral codes introduced ahead of the country's elections.

The Statistics and Cybercrimes Acts were signed into law in March of this year, restricting online activity and preventing journalists from publishing statistics regarding the Tanzanian Government without written permission from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Enforcement of the Cybercrimes Act was implemented on September 1, allowing police officials to seize computers, search browser histories and intercept emails without warrants.

With Magufuli making great strides in the country just weeks after his election into office, Tanzanian media are playing a waiting game to see whether Magufuli will adhere to the Open Government Initiative introduced by the US. Under the Initiative, governments will strive for more transparency in their dealings.

It remains to be seen whether Magufuli will extend his anti-corruption drive to also include media freedom and truly live up to his Twitter hashtag, #WhatWouldMagufuliDo.

Read more at CPJ.org

*Additional reporting from CAJ News Africa

- News24


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