Dar es Salaam. The government has permanently banned the publication of a Kiswahili tabloid, Mawio, as the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) announced the suspension of operations of 27 electronic media, including the Mwanza-based Sahara Media Group’s Star Television, Radio Free Africa and Kiss FM.
TCRA manager of Corporate Communications Innocent Mungy said yesterday that the electronic media had been suspended for failing to pay various operational fees. He added that the suspended media had been given three months to pay their outstanding fees before further measures were taken against them.
On the banned tabloid, the minister for Information, Culture, Artistes and Sports, Mr Nape Nnauye, said in a terse statement that the ban was effective from January 15, this year.
“The newspaper titled ‘Mawio’ shall cease publication permanently, including any electronic as per the Electronic and Postal Communication Act, with effect from 15th day of January,” reads part of the statement.
He added in the statement: “The proprietor, printer and publisher of ‘Mawio’ is Victoria Media Services Ltd.” Commenting on the ban, the distributor of the newspaper, Mr Saed Kubenea, who is also Ubungo MP said the action taken by the government showed how it did not want to be criticised.
Mr Nnauye said the publishers were served with several warning letters previously by the government in relation to the kind of content published in the tabloid, saying they did not abide by professional standards.
But Mr Kubenea said: “Mawio has been writing a number of analytical and investigative news about what is happening in Zanzibar, and the government is not happy with that.”
“I’m aware that the latest warning letter was received by the management on January 14 instructing them to file a defence as to why the government should not take action on a story entitled ‘Machafuko yaja Zanzibar’ before they announced the ban the next day,” said Mr Kubenea.
Tanzania Editors Forum secretary Neville Meena said the action taken by the government continued showing how the 1976 Newspaper Act was a bad law. Dar es Salaam Special Zone PC Simon Siro said police were looking for Mawio editors to explain the justification of the news.