Tanzanian officials have issued out a clarification relating to the lifting of a media ban announced by the country’s new president.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Tuesday ordered the lifting of ban on all media houses in the country.
The President instructed the Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports to free media outlets that were banned and instead ensure they follow the rules set by the government.
This was seen as a major statement that could define her presidency as a democratic leader who has nothing against freedom of expression.
The president said “I am told you revoked licenses of some media outlets, including some online television stations. You should lift the ban but tell them to follow the law and government guidelines.”
She said by lifting the bans on some media outlets would make Tanzania more appealing to the rest of the world when it comes to free speech.
“But make sure that whoever is given a go ahead to operate a media company does follow the law of the country,” she said.
But the government has now said the directive will only apply to online media outlets.
The newly appointed government spokesman, Gerson Msigwa, said in a tweet that the president had given instructions “to lift the ban on online television only and not other media, including newspapers that were banned according to the laws”.
Rais wa Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania, Mhe. Samia Suluhu Hassan, ameelekeza Televisheni za Mtandaoni (Online TV) tu ndio zifunguliwe na SIO vyombo vya habari vingine yakiwemo magazeti vilivyofungiwa kwa mujibu wa Sheria.
Msemaji Mkuu wa Serikali
— Msemaji Mkuu wa Serikali (@TZMsemajiMkuu) April 7, 2021
Information Minister Innocent Bashungwa has also said the government will consult the laws involved in banning newspapers before acting on the directive.