The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) is distressed to hear of the savage attack on Absalon Kibanda, Chairman of the Tanzanian Editors’ Forum.
Mr Kibanda, who is also Editor-in-Chief at the media group New Habari is receiving treatment at Milpark hospital in Johannesburg after he was assaulted by three men outside his home in Dar es Salaam. The assailants beat him severely, cut off one of his fingers and punctured his eye. It appears from his initial account that they intended to kill him. Nothing was stolen, however there are strong grounds to believe the attack was connected to his work.
Tanzania has on its statute books a draft of legislation which is hostile to the practice of independent journalism and powerful figures in that country's political and business establishment do not hesitate to use it to silence critical voices.
Mr Kibanda himself faces what are clearly spurious charges of sedition over the publication on his watch of an article critical of the politicisation of the security forces.
It is clear that a climate of official antipathy to a free press may create conditions in which those who are ready to use force to secure silence feel they can do so with a tacit license from the authorities.
We are pleased that Mr Kibanda is now receiving good medical care, and wish him well in his recovery. We will offer him our full support while he is in our country, and our solidarity on his return home. We will call on South Africa's representatives at the South African Development Community to convey our concerns to their Tanzanian counterparts, and to ask that his assailants be brought to book.