THE government has banned two daily tabloids - 'Mwananchi' and 'Mtanzania' for publishing seditious articles.
The Mwananchi has been banned for 14 days while Mtanzania's punishment is for 90 days for publishing contents said to be a threat to national security and violating peace and solidarity in the country. The penalty is effective from Friday.
Tanzania Information Services Director, Mr Assah Mwambene, told a press conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the government had decided to ban the two newspapers for publishing news and features aimed at influencing readers to mistrust the government and its organs.
"The penalty has been announced in the government gazette number 333 of September 27, 2013," said Mr Mwambene.
He cited an example of inciting news published by 'Mwananchi' titled "New Salary in the Government 2013," saying the newspaper used government confidential documents which should not be published or broadcast in the media.
"On August 17, the newspaper published the news story titled "Muslims pray under tight security" backed with a photo of a police dog.
The news had implication that police had deployed police dogs in Muslim worship areas which was not true," he said.
"The news had the intention of antagonising the police and Muslims because dogs are unclean according to Islam and should not enter worship places," he said. Mr Mwambene said the 'Mtanzania' newspaper had been warned several times over its news style to adhere to media ethics.
"Despite being warned by the newspapers registrar, the newspaper ignored the warnings. The newspaper of June 12, for instance, in the edition number 7262 of March published the news titled 'Urais wa Damu' (The Blood Presidency) and in edition number 7344 published the news titled "Revolution Inevitable," he said.
He said the Mtanzania of September 18th edition number 73414 on front page published the news titled 'Serikali Inanuka Damu' (the government stinks of blood), saying the news was backed by the photo showing red indicating blood.
Mr Mwambene said the newspaper alleged to have evidence that the police were involved in the persecution of some people, saying the newspaper alleges that the government is indolent in addressing incidents with terrorism aspect.
"The government requires the owners, editors and media people in general to adhere to the media ethics while publishing or broadcasting news," he said.
Reached for comment, Mwananchi Communications Executive Director, Bakari Machumu said they had not received official communication regarding the ban, hence he could not make a statement. Mtanzania officials could not be reached immediately for comment.