DAR ES SALAAM, (Reuters) – Tanzania’s government yesterday suspended publication of an opposition-leaning newspaper for three months, the fourth newspaper to be shut down since June in what critics say is a crackdown on press freedom.
The newspaper, Tanzania Daima, was shut down for publishing an article about the number of Tanzanians on life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs used to treat AIDS, the director general of the Tanzania Information Services, Hassan Abbasi, said in a statement. The article was factually incorrect, Abbasi said.
The move comes after President John Magufuli warned in January that the days of newspapers his government viewed as unethical “were numbered” — a statement that triggered concern about censorship.
The government banned the critical newspaper MwanaHalisi in September for two years after accusing it of inciting violence. Another independent newspaper, Mawio, was banned in June over articles linking two former presidents to alleged improprieties in mining deals signed in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Magufuli has won some praise from western donors for an anti-corruption drive and cutting wasteful public spending. But opponents accuse him of increasingly undermining democracy by curbing dissent and stifling free speech.
Magufuli has denied opposition accusations that his government was becoming increasingly autocratic.