NAIROBI (Reuters) – Tanzania’s new President Samia Suluhu Hassan said on Tuesday she would lift a ban on all media in the country, a radical shift from a press crackdown implemented by her late predecessor John Magufuli.
Under Magufuli, who Hassan said died of heart disease at 61, rights groups said press freedom had nosedived. He had shut down newspapers and websites, jailed journalists and warned them that there were limits to their press freedom.
“I have heard there are media that were banned. Reopen them, we should not give them room to say we are shrinking press freedom,” the president told officials at the State House in the capital Dar es Salaam.
“We should not ban the media by force. Reopen them, and we should ensure they follow the rules,” she added.
Last June, the government revoked the license of the opposition-leaning newspaper Tanzania Daima, accused of spreading false information and violating journalism ethics.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said last year that since March 2019, Tanzanian authorities suspended at least three other media outlets.
Some activists welcomed Hassan’s decision to lift the media ban but urged her to amend laws stifling press freedom.
“Well put, however, repressive laws have to be repealed…,” tweeted Maria Sarungi, a renowned activist and director of Kwanza TV, one of the media organizations banned under Magufuli.
(Reporting by Nairobi newsroom; Editing by Bernadette Baum)