Tanzania Leader Warns Media After Minister Fired Over TV Dispute

  • Magufuli tells media owners there are limits on their freedoms
  • President cites Rwanda genocide as example of media incitement

Tanzanian President John Magufuli warned media organizations against “inflammatory” reporting, a day after he fired a cabinet minister who defended press freedom.

“Media owners, let me tell you: Be careful. Watch it,” Magufuli said Friday in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. “If you think you have that kind of freedom -- not to that extent.”

Magufuli on Thursday dismissed Information Minister Nape Nnauye, who this week ordered an inquiry into a regional commissioner who tried to force a privately owned media company to broadcast footage about a paternity case involving a political rival. The commissioner, Paul Makonda, is an ally of Magufuli, according to Dubai-based research group Teneo Intelligence.

Since taking office in November 2015, Magufuli has sought to improve government efficiency, firing dozens of public servants for incompetence. In May, he dismissed his home affairs minister for addressing parliament while allegedly drunk.

Ministers in the government should continue to work hard, Magufuli said at a swearing-in ceremony for Harrison Mwakyembe, who replaced Nnauye.

“In Tanzania, there is a small group of people who like to complain, instead of looking for solutions,” he said. “They want Tanzania to fail. It’s unclear to me what their interests are.”

Rwandan Genocide

The president also warned attending journalists to avoid the kind of coverage that could lead to violence, citing the Rwandan genocide in 1994, in which more than 800,000 people died. A United Nations-backed tribunal found members of the Rwandan media responsible for broadcasts intended to inflame the public to commit acts of genocide.

“The problems that have hit other countries were instigated partly by our pens,” Magufuli said. The Rwandan genocide “started with small things.”

Mwakyembe’s previous position as head of the Constitutional Affairs Ministry will be filled Palamagamba Kabudi, a former law professor, who was also sworn in on Friday.

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