Tanzania | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2007

2007 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Although the constitution provides for freedom of speech, several other laws limit the ability of the media to function effectively. Authorities are empowered to register and ban newspapers under the Newspaper Registration Act “in the interest of peace and good order,” while the Broadcasting Services Act provides for state regulation of electronic media, and the National Security Act allows the government to control the dissemination of information to the public. Libel laws that impose criminal penalties intimidated journalists from reporting aggressively, particularly on issues of corruption. In August 2006, the minister of lands and settlement development, John Magufuli, initiated criminal proceedings against three journalists after publication of an article relating to funds for the construction of a road that had allegedly been diverted to the minister’s constituency. There is no freedom of information legislation in place, but the government announced plans to table a draft bill in April 2007.

In 2006, journalists were subjected to extralegal intimidation, particularly threats of deportation. In August, the government threatened to strip the citizenship of and deport Richard Mgamba, a local investigative journalist with the daily newspaper The Citizen, after he appeared in a documentary film that the authorities allege damaged both the country’s economy and its image. The resolution of the case was still pending at year’s end. Earlier in the year, Ali Mohammed Nabwa, former editor of Dira, a defunct Zanzibar newspaper, was stripped of his Tanzanian nationality by the Zanzibar Immigration Department, just three and a half months after having it restored by the Tanzanian interior minister.

The situation in Zanzibar remains more restrictive than in the rest of the country. Journalists in Zanzibar must be licensed, and the state tightly controls the broadcast media. Locals can receive broadcasts and reports from the mainland. Zanzibar’s first independent private newspaper, Dira, remains banned, and there are no private broadcasters on the island. In 2005, the government made direct attempts to bar journalists from reporting critically in the region; no such incidents were reported in 2006.

The number of media outlets continued to grow and now includes 47 FM radio stations, 537 registered newspapers, and a dozen television stations. Only 4 radio stations have a national reach—the state-run Radio Tanzania and three privately-run stations—and all are viewed as sympathetic to the ruling party. The government reportedly withholds advertising from critical newspapers and those that report favorably on the opposition. Private firms that are keen to remain on good terms with the government allegedly follow suit, thus making it difficult for critical media outlets to remain financially sustainable. Nonetheless, a number of independent media outlets regularly criticize official policies. There are no reports of government restriction of the internet, though less than 1 percent had the financial means to access it in 2006.